AN urgent appeal has been launched for volunteers to befriend and visit elderly and vulnerable people.

Northallerton and District Voluntary Service Association say there has been an “unprecedented demand” for its community visiting scheme and is seeking around 20 new helpers.

The volunteers are needed to support older and disabled people who find themselves isolated in their own homes for a variety of reasons.

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The visiting scheme aims to put an end to people’s loneliness by providing volunteers who befriend them, visit them and chat to them.

Project co-ordinator Helen Crannage said: “We are getting more requests than ever before and currently have 17 people waiting for help.

“We have 31 volunteers at the moment that do an amazing job supporting people in the Northallerton and Bedale area by befriending or doing shopping for those who can’t get out of their homes. Some of them even help people to get out and about into the local community.

“Our volunteers are wonderful and between them have supported over 50 people in the last year – but more are desperately needed to meet the increasing demand for help and companionship.

“There is always a surge in demand after Christmas but this year it has been unprecedented and we just don’t have enough helpers to meet the increased need.”

The community visiting scheme was launched more than ten years ago when a need for it was first identified.

Many of those who use it are people in their 80s and 90s who have previously led independent lives but have become socially isolated and now need a help or support.

Volunteers usually visit someone’s home for one or two hours a week and the service is offered to people living in Northallerton, Bedale and surrounding villages.

Volunteers must be over 18, reliable, friendly and caring.

They must also undergo an Enhanced Disclosure check. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer visitor - or using the service - can contact Helen Crannage on 01609-780458 or visit the website

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