Volunteers needed to champion new trusted befriending network

Caring volunteers are being encouraged to sign up to a new service aiming to combat isolation and help people get out and about in their communities.

Derbyshire County Council is officially launching the Derbyshire Trusted Befriending Network in January and in preparation for this it is asking caring people to volunteer now to become `Befriending Champions’ in their communities.

The call coincides with National Befriending Week and people who think they might fit the bill are being urged to come forward and sign up.

The network, being run by South Derbyshire CVS on behalf of the county council, will cover the whole county and people from across Derbyshire are being encouraged to sign up to become Befriending Champions.

The network is made up of local groups which have all met or are working towards meeting a Trusted Befriending Network quality standard, so that people using befriending services can be confident that what they are being offered is safe and well-run.

One of the keys to the success of the Befriending Network will be the volunteer Befriending Champions.

They will act as the `eyes and ears’ of their local community, looking out for people who are at risk of becoming lonely or isolated and also linking in with people who are receiving befriending support.

The role will involve helping people find groups, activities or services that they might find enjoyable and supporting and encouraging them to take the first steps to going along and taking part.

Befriending Champions will be people who already have a paid or voluntary role that brings them into contact with members of the public.

All the Befriending Champions will be trained and supported by the Derbyshire Trusted Befriending Network, in partnership with local volunteer centres and other voluntary organisations.

The county council has initially put £85,000 towards setting up the Derbyshire Trusted Befriending Network as part of its drive to improve preventative services for people across the county.

The aim of prevention services is to support people to keep well, stay independent and living in their own homes for as long as possible with a good quality of life.

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Care Councillor Charles Jones said: “Loneliness and isolation is a huge problem which is why Derbyshire Trusted Befriending Network and the Befriending Champions initiative are so important.

“Befriending Champions can play a big part in helping those people who for whatever reason have become isolated, to get involved with their local community and take part in activities that support their well-being.

“To help a person in this way can be hugely satisfying and, for the person involved, can halt a spiral of decline and be literally life-changing.”

To become a Befriending Champion or to find out more information about the scheme and how to get involved contact Derbyshire Befriending Network co-ordinator Kerrie Fletcher on 01283 219761 or email befriending@sdcvs.org.uk