The Yorkshire Dales and Moors Community Connect initiative, launched in May, has now started to establish its roots across the area, with British Red Cross volunteers carrying out a wide range of tasks for people in remote areas.
The service provides emotional and practical support to those who need it most, such as home visits, help with shopping and assistance with paper work. It is designed to both help with day to day practicalities and help people access existing community services.
Tom Hughes, senior service manager at British Red Cross, said: “This is a relatively new service that covers a huge rural area and is available to anyone over the age of 18, our aim is to connect people to their communities and local services around them. For example it could be an elderly person who needs help getting to a lunch club or a young person who needs help writing a CV.
“Volunteers have been helping people in the community through companionship and conversation. The difference that the service can make can be life changing, rebuilding confidence and reducing social isolation are at the heart of the project. For example one of our volunteers assisted a gentleman with local bus timetables, and accompanied him on the bus to a local lunch club. He has now made friends and his life has been transformed.”
Pauline Broadwith, one of the Moors and Dales Community Connect co-ordinators, said: “On one of my initial visits to a service user, who was a carer said “the British Red Cross are wonderful”. My reply was we had only visited once. He was so grateful for us taking the time to listen to him. Perhaps that is our greatest strength; we and our volunteers have the time to listen.”
The Community Connect project has funding for five years and is part of a nationwide partnership, which sees Land Rover UK providing £2m of support to 11 Red Cross projects in rural locations.
Kate Dale, co-ordinator of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network based in Harrogate, said the local project was working: “It’s very encouraging to see the development of this project which is making a very practical response to social isolation and loneliness in some of our most rural areas across the Moors and Dales.”
The Yorkshire Post wants more people to volunteer for services that help people living with loneliness as part of its award-winning campaign to highlight the issue. For details about volunteering for British Red Cross project, call Pauline Broadwith or Rebecca Sirrell of the British Red Cross on 01609 772186.