A service providing company for lonely people has been handed a six-figure sum.
Yorkshire Children’s Centre at Brian Jackson House in Huddersfield, has secured £138,000 from the National Lottery to run the Kirklees Befriending Service across the district for the next three years.
A similar project run by the centre and funded by Kirklees Council – which matched almost 300 people with volunteers – had to be halted in March this year due to council cuts.
An event to launch the new service was held at the centre and attended by Mayor of Kirklees Clr Christine Iredale and her consort Robert Iredale. The event also included a short sketch on befriending performed by members of Curtain Up, a drama group made up of retired people.
Service manager Christine Wilson said clients were referred to the service by professionals such as district nurses, doctors or social workers. The service recruits volunteers who undergo DBS checks and receive training before being matched with a client.
She said volunteers were typically people who had taken early retirement and wanted to give something back to the community.
“We ask them to volunteer an hour of their time a week, but volunteers will often do more than that,” she said. “We run the same service in Calderdale and we have volunteers who will see maybe two or three people a week.”
Clients are often elderly people living alone, but can also include others facing social isolation, including those with disabilities or mental health issues.
“The aim is to provide them with a bit of company and conversation,” said Christine. “If they can get out and about it may be a case of going to the shops with them or taking them for a drive.”
Christine said the funding from the National Lottery would go towards the costs of running the service and paying volunteers’ expenses.
“This is a much-needed service for our communities,” she added.