Essex Community Foundation

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Changing lives one friendship at a time

22nd January 2018

A befriending scheme which matches people who feel lonely and isolated, with a volunteer companion, has been awarded a major grant.

Castle Point Association of Voluntary Services (CAVS) is receiving a £60,000 funding boost, distributed over two years, from The Henry Smith Charity which is working in partnership with the local grantmaking trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

The befriending scheme helps many elderly and vulnerable people. The grant means that the organisation can expand their work and train extra volunteers to support more people living in Castle Point and Rochford.

Most clients are referred by their local GP or other health agencies and the service adapts to the individual. People are matched based on common interests, location and need.

Alan, a 71-year-old man, is among those who have thrived thanks to the scheme. He has Parkinson’s disease and in the past suffered a debilitating heart attack, leaving him less active.

His GP felt that extra companionship would benefit his health and referred him to CAVS. Through the scheme, Alan was matched with a male volunteer who has helped him to build his confidence and become more physically and mentally active. He now enjoys short walks and is seeking a chess partner.

Vicky Pilton, Senior Befriending Co-ordinator at CAVS, said: “We are thrilled to have received this grant from The Henry Smith Charity. Providing people with friendship and interesting conversation on a regular basis is something so simple, but it can have a huge impact on the overall wellbeing of individuals.

If you, or someone you know in the Castle Point or Rochford area, could benefit from the befriending scheme, or if you would like to volunteer, call 01268 638416 or visit castlepointavs.org.uk.

For more information about ECF and how to apply for funding, call the grants team on 01245 356018.

Photos included are of Befriended clients and their paired volunteer.