Voluntary service is a social lifeline

NRHN 15-10-12 BE 12 Amber valley cvs befriending service for the elderly.Edward Bartle and Ray Kelsall.
NRHN 15-10-12 BE 12 Amber valley cvs befriending service for the elderly.Edward Bartle and Ray Kelsall.
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We all need a friendly ear, some sound advice or a helping hand from time-to-time.

But for those isolated members of society, good company can be hard to come by.

It is why Amber Valley Community Voluntary Services (CVS) has been running its befriending service for the past ten years.

Elderly , physically and mentally impaired people who may have lost family, or are isolated due to their condition are often referred to the organisation, based at Market Place in Ripley, by Social Services, if it is felt they could benefit simply from someone to talk to.

And since its inception, the ‘befrienders’ have proved a source of welcome relief for hundreds.

Former Nottingham City Council worker Edward Bartle is visited at his Heanor home every Thursday morning for an hour by volunteer Ray Kelsall.

Widower Edward has difficulty getting about because he needs a hip replacement, has partial eyesight and suffers with diabetes.

He lost his wife Jean in 2005.

“There’s people worse off than me,” he said. “There are people lying in bungalows and they have no-one come to see them.”

“But if a befriender comes round it gives them courage - it breaks the monotony.”

Carers help give Edward daily medical assistance at home and he hires a cleaner to keep the bungalow tidy.

But befrienders like former pit worker Ray, 70, of Ray Street, Heanor, help in ways Social Services cannot always. Ray said: “I’ve retired now so I’ve got a bit more time. I take him down to his wife’s grave - he hadn’t been before.

“I don’t want him to thank me - I just want to be able to get him out of the house a bit. I enjoy coming to see the fella too!”

“It gives him something to fight for.”

Nathan Hutchinson, of Amber Valley CVS, says befrienders also play an important role in keeping their ‘befriendees’ safe from distraction burglars and cold callers who prey on the vulnerable.

He said: “We often see that people who are vulnerable might let people in the home for whatever reason, maybe just because they want to chat.

“If a befriender notices some sort of suspicious activity while they are there, or if they are told about it, they can then report that to us and we can alert the relevant authorities.”

For more information on becoming a befriender, call Amber Valley CVS on 01773 512076.

grave, he hadn’t been before