AGE UK North Yorkshire and Darlington’s new befriending service is attempting to combat loneliness and isolation in communities.

The scheme involves matching two volunteers, based on their interests, who may be seeking companionship.

A volunteer will then visit the person feeling lonely or isolated for a chat, cup of tea, assist with small daily living tasks and accompany their clients on short walks or outings.

The charity’s befriending scheme has already helped a number of people, including Diane Leak and her befriender Fiona Saunders-Priem.

They were matched more than five years ago when they found they shared similar interests, and their friendship has only got stronger over the years, and the time they spend together has become a highlight for both of them.

To celebrate national befriend week, this week, Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington is hosting a number of special events across the region, which are open to both volunteers and anyone considering getting involved in the befriending service.

In Darlington, there will be an information stall in the Dolphin Centre today, between 10am and 1pm, as well as a drop-in service at Three4 in Priestgate on Thursday, November 7 between 10.30am and 12.30pm, for people who are interested in volunteering, or to find out more about other opportunities.

There will also be a drop-in afternoon, tomorrow, at Age UK in Northallerton, where people can find out more about the befriending service and Ex-Forces Support. There will also be an information stand at the Station in Richmond, from noon until 4pm, tomorrow.

The service also encompasses a specialist veteran’s telephone support service through Ex-Forces Support.

• Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington is a local independent charity committed to enhancing the health and wellbeing of older people by promoting quality-assured activity, information and care; ensuring that older people have opportunity for choice and continued independence. More information can be found at

• Ex-Forces Support is available in North Yorkshire and is funded by Community First Yorkshire, more information about the project can be found at their website.