Help make a difference with TeamGY, and befriend the lonely

PUBLISHED: 11:36 18 January 2013 | UPDATED: 11:36 18 January 2013

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ISOLATED and lonely. Watching out of the window as the busy world passes by.

For many elderly, their homes are a source of comfort but it can also be isolating – but others can change this for just a few hours a week.

Befriending an elderly person is not always high of an agenda when someone is thinking of volunteering, but for Age Concern Great Yarmouth, based in The Priory Centre, it is one of the many stones that go to build a wall of support.

Age Concern’s befriending scheme offers volunteers the opportunity to visit the elderly within their own community, offering them friendship and companionship outside of their families, if they have family living nearby.

Many of the elderly do not have transport available, or simply are not mobile enough to get out and about.

Jackie Tierney of Age Concern feels a volunteer from the Befriend Scheme offers friendship without the family ties and concerns, allowing for a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

John Durrant, 80, from Bradwell, has been a member of Age Concern for two years and attends a number of the clubs and events the charity provides. John has a mobility scooter.

He has been visited weekly by Keith Sanders, 65, from Gorleston, for a year.

Before joining Age Concern John found life “monotonous and boring”, but now he enjoys his weekly visits and chats with Keith.

John’s family does visit but the conversations with Keith can often be about photography, a passion of John’s, and the pair also confess to “setting the world to rights”.

Both men look forward to their time together and miss it when they are unable to meet up.

Keith, who walks to John’s home, joined the charity as a member but while he is still active and able he feels that by volunteering he is helping the community and filling a need.

In fact, Keith has befriended two older people.

Many of the elderly within the community do not yet feel the need for a weekly visitor as they are still mobile enough to attend the weekly lunch clubs and events run by Jackie and her team. However, many members agree when they feel they are no longer able to attend the activities they will join the befriending scheme in order to continue socialising.

More volunteers are needed as the demand for friendship increases.

Age Concern weekly gatherings are not only held in the Priory Centre but also at outreach places in different communities such as in local pubs, where lunch is served and afterwards games and raffles held.

For more information about volunteering on the befriending scheme, joining Age Concern Great Yarmouth, details of location and meeting times for lunch clubs, call Jackie on 01493 743052 or email

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