With over a million older people in the UK going a month without speaking to someone you can help them beat loneliness by volunteering this winter.

Cambridgeshire volunteers are already making a difference and there are loads of opportunities where you can help out.

According to 2011 Census, around 30,000 people in Cambridgeshire aged 65 and over are living alone. Evidence suggests that by sharing your time with an older person and helping them get out and about can have a real impact on boosting their self-esteem, confidence and help them feel a part of their community.

Simple tips for being a good or neighbour to an older person living alone include:

1.    Start a conversation with those we meet out and about, show interest and warmth, and if they are an elderly neighbour ask if they need any practical help.

2.    Get to know our neighbours "“ take the opportunity to introduce ourselves when we see them, particularly those who may live alone or rarely leave the house.

3.    Share our time "“ offering from as little as 30 minutes a month, there are ways we can make a real difference. This could be having a cup of tea with an elderly neighbour, dropping in for a chat, helping with shopping or helping maintain their garden during the winter.

Cambridgeshire County Council and its partner organisations have range of volunteer opportunities on offer, including:

  • Cambridgeshire Library at Home service uses a network of volunteers to take books out to people who are unable to visit a library, and needs more volunteers.
  • Care Network Cambridgeshire would welcome volunteers for their help at home service, supporting people returning from hospital, and as community navigators.
  • Community Network is looking for volunteers to run one-hour phone chat groups.
  • Contact the Elderly holds monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for over-75s and needs volunteer drivers and hosts.
  • Friends of the Elderly needs volunteers to help with its day centres, telephone befriending groups and coffee mornings in sheltered housing schemes.
  • Royal Voluntary Service wants volunteers who can help an older person with little tasks, such as doing their shopping and taking their dog for a walk, or delivering meals.
  • The Silver Line needs people to help deliver this new helpline for older people.
  • Age UK Cambridgeshire has lots of volunteering opportunities and is currently looking for volunteer visitors for the visiting scheme

For more details on how to volunteer, visit here  

Charlotte Black, Service Director for Older People's Services at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "Volunteering and sharing your time with an older person this winter could be the best present you give someone if they are feeling lonely. You can be a good neighbour - a simple friendly chat or a cup of tea can make a massive difference to someone's day. If you can give more time, why not take a look at some of the local volunteer opportunities?"

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