A charity scheme that provides befriending support for lonely and vulnerable people has reached an agreement that will see it run a pilot scheme for a year.
Shetland Befriending Scheme has signed a 12-month agreement with the SIC housing department worth £17,000.
It will enable them to run a pilot project offering befriending support to anyone aged over-16. That will plug a gap in the service which previously only worked with young adults aged up to 25 and over-60s.
Development worker Mairi Jamieson said it was important to be able to reach out to all adults. The pilot has been set up to enable the befriending scheme to develop its service so that they can provide befriending and one to one help.
The aim is to support vulnerable people in the community who are living in their own home/tenancy but having difficulty living independently. It will aim to support folk who are lonely or socially isolated and encourage them to develop social connections to combat their loneliness.
Ms Jamieson said at least 20 people would be supported but, over the 12 months, double that number could be helped by volunteer befrienders.
“A lot of it is about getting them back out into the community. A lot of people are living on their own and feeling isolated … we’re hoping by getting a volunteer to interact with them [it will] get them to socialise more and get them out in public undertaking purposeful activities to help develop their skills.”
We’re hoping by getting a volunteer to interact with them [it will] get them to socialise more and get them out in public undertaking purposeful activities to help develop their skills. MAIRI JAMIESON
She said that some of those who use the service may be recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, adding that volunteers could help get them back into a life away from that.
The scheme recruits individuals as volunteer befrienders and matches them with a person.
Executive manager of Shetland Islands Council’s housing department, Anita Jamieson, said: “We have worked closely with Shetland Befriending Scheme to identify a gap in the market and developed a service that will fill a real need in Shetland.
“With smaller households on the increase we are seeing increasing numbers of people affected by social isolation and that can have a significant impact on their wellbeing and ability to sustain their accommodation.”
Shetland Befriending Scheme is planning to launch a recruitment drive soon to attract more volunteers. Keep an eye on The Shetland Times for details.