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Loneliness does not discriminate: new befriending service in Norfolk

A new befriending initiative, launched during Loneliness Awareness Week in June, links people to services that can help combat isolation and loneliness in Norfolk.

Loneliness and social isolation can have a devastating effect on mental and physical health, so it is crucial that people feel able to ask for help and not feel stigmatised. This new befriending service helps to reach those people who don’t have friends and family to make regular calls and visits.

Norfolk County Council, in partnership with the voluntary sector, community groups and local councils in Norfolk, can now offer direct connections to existing befriending services and to the army of volunteers recruited during the pandemic.

People can ask for support with loneliness and isolation by contacting Norfolk County Council directly on 0344 800 8020 (press option 1 then option 4).

By centralising calls, the customer service team can rapidly connect the customer to a volunteer coordinator, who will then match an appropriate befriender from the network of volunteers across the county. As well as befriending phone calls, the service hopes to provide socially distanced visits too.

To date, volunteers across the county have made regular calls to over 297 people.

Ninety-year-old Maurice Oliver has recently joined the befriending service and said: “I try to keep moving with housework and like to use brain-power making models, otherwise you lose it, but I do still feel lonely and depressed at times. I’ve come to rely on these calls. My befriender’s an angel and is genuinely interested in me, not just talking for the sake of it.”

Picture: posed by model

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