Initiative tackles a modern scourge

A lonely pensioner
A lonely pensioner

A new befriending scheme that aims to support lonely and isolated people in north east Fife is appealing for volunteers.

Called the Castle Befriending Scheme, the initiative is being run under the umbrella of the Cupar-based Castle Furniture Project, a well-established charitable organisation.

It’s being funded by Fife Council and the Health and Social Care Partnership as part of a Fife-wide effort to tackle the growing problem of loneliness, particularly among older people.

“A lonely older person is almost three and a half times more likely to suffer depression and nearly twice as likely to develop dementia within the next 15 years,” said volunteers co-ordinator Lesley Haycock.

“They’re also nearly twice as likely to visit their doctor than someone of the same age who is not lonely.

“I was not aware of any of these statistics until recently. There are more. The more I discover the more shocked I become.

“Human beings are gregarious. We thrive in company. These statistics show what can happen if we are denied social interaction. Unfortunately we no longer live in the communities that used to exist, where everyone knew everyone, used the same local shop, pub, church etc.

“ When this was the ‘norm’ everyone saw familiar faces every day.

“ I moved house last year and I only know the name of one of my neighbours… at least I think I do. That is the ‘norm’ today.”

Lesley said that the time and company that volunteers can offer are valuable resources.

“Please consider using them to help change the lives and possible futures of the many isolated and lonely people living within our community, “ she said.

“Regular visits, a chat and a cuppa, an outing or a walk with a friend are small things can make a huge difference to some one’s wellbeing.”

Lesley is looking for friendly, empathetic people who likes to listen, chat and socialise, and has time to spare.

She said: “If you can spare the time it takes to have a cup of tea and a blether, or to go for a walk, or even to make a phone call, then please let your next phone call be to me!”

To volunteer or to find out more about the Castle Befriending Scheme, contact Lesley on 07486 691108