MORE than 100 vulnerable and lonely residents east Durham will have their their spirits lifted through a new telephone befriending service.

The Chit Chat project has already recruited ten cheerful volunteers who are ready to be a friendly voice at the end of the line to some of the area’s most isolated people.

The project, managed by East Durham Trust, was officially launched by Roberta Blackman Woods at Community House, Peterlee, today.

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Each of the volunteers will have a small caseload of local people who have been referred by family or health professionals.

As well as checking on the welfare of individuals who have difficulty getting out and about, they will also be providing a friendly voice and listening ear from a social point of view.

The project has been made possible thanks to funding from the local Health Network and County Durham and Darlington NHS.

Chief Executive Malcolm Fallow said: "Being isolated and alone for long periods of time can have a detrimental effect on peoples mental health – this project will hopefully go some way to addressing that."

He added: "We have been delighted at the number of volunteers who have come forward for this project, it really does confirm that community spirit is not dead."

Anyone who would like to volunteer for the project should contact Abby Thompson at East Durham Trust on 0191-569 3511 Anyone who feels they, or a family member would benefit from referral to this service should contact East Durham Trust on 0191-569 3511.