Hand of friendship extends to villages thanks to grant

A charity has secured a grant to expand a befriending scheme into rural areas of the Harborough district.

The money from Harborough District Council’s New Homes Bonus district-wide fund will allow Voluntary Action South Leicestershire (VASL) to extend the hand of friendship to the district’s most remote villages.

A new project worker, Jenny Young, has now been appointed to help with its expanded Good Companions scheme.

Good Companions co-ordinator Hilary Dunsmore said: “I am delighted to announce that we were successful in obtaining a grant through Harborough Council’s New Homes Bonus fund to enable us to take our Good Companions scheme into the deeply rural regions of Harborough, something we have not been able to do before.

“We give one-to-one support and friendship to those over-65 living alone and have a network of volunteers from all corners of the community, that have a few hours to spare with someone who needs the service. They do a fantastic job.”

She said loneliness can be more harmful to health than obesity or smoking.

She added: “Befriending services are a lifeline for people who are lonely. This role offers the opportunity to improve the quality of life for those that are isolated. I have previously worked with clients in small villages and appreciate how isolated people can be.

“Lots of people will have made New Year resolutions to maybe do more to help others. I am looking for new volunteers that wish to become befrienders, and also would love to hear from anyone in the rural areas of Harborough over the age of 65 that would like to have a regular visit.

“Why not start the New Year as you mean to carry on and help to make life better?”

To find out more about the Good Companions scheme visit www.vasl.org.uk or call Jenny on 01858 439263.