Pioneering scheme aims to help Darlington's vulnerable and elderly (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Pioneering scheme aims to help Darlington's vulnerable and elderly
Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College student, Daisy Catterall, 17, and 76-year-old Bill Craggs have a cuppa and a natter
A PIONEERING scheme which aims to recruit 1,000 volunteers to help their elderly neighbours has been launched in Darlington.
The Good Friends project, commissioned by Darlington Partnership, aims to support 1,500 older and vulnerable people in Darlington in its first year by recruiting volunteers to help them with simple day-to-day tasks in a bid to combat isolation and increase independence in older people.
Run by Age UK Darlington, in partnership with Darlington Police and Darlington Neighbourhood Watch Association, the scheme will also build a support network for both volunteers and their elderly neighbours.
If successful in Darlington, the scheme could be rolled out across the whole of County Durham.
Speaking at the launch in Darlington today (Tuesday, October 1), chief executive of Age UK Darlington, Gillian Peel, said: “The Good Friends is going to be an army of 1,000 informal volunteers who will do small tasks to help neighbours and others in their community to ensure they have a better quality of life.
“Small jobs could include pushing the wheelie bin round, walking the dog, phoning to say are you okay or reaching something from the top shelf.
“Now it is over to you, we need commitment from individuals and organisations to help us develop Good Friends into an ethos for Darlington. We will all help to improve the quality of life for older and vulnerable people in Darlington.”
Anybody can sign up to become a Good Friend, and the scheme is being introduced to schools and community interest groups to help recruit volunteers from all walks of life.
Daisy Catterall, vice president of the student association at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, said dozens of students had already shown an interest in becoming a volunteer.
“It is something a lot of students are interested in doing, and it’s the simple things we can do that can make a real difference,” said the 17-year-old.
Having been chosen as a priority for the Darlington Partnership group, organisers hope the scheme will become as successful as the group’s Foundation for Jobs project, which has helped more than 300 young people secure an apprenticeship or an internship since its launch in January last year.
Alasdair MacConachie, chairman of Darlington Partnership, said: “It is about making Darlington a better place to live.
“There are shed loads of people out there that need help, just a phone call or a friendly visit could really help.”
Anyone interested in becoming a Good Friend can call 01325-362832 or visit goodfriends.org.uk
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