Over nine million people in the UK report they are always or often alone, typically due to life changes such as retirement, divorce or bereavement. Consequently, they are often left vulnerable in their own home.

The Rotherham Befriending Service, provided by the British Red Cross, is helping to reduce this problem in our area. Relying on the time and commitment of local volunteers, they visit clients on a 1-2-1 basis to help them fit back into society by making friends and building confidence.

It has been proven that taking a gentler approach to loneliness and depression prevents them developing into a serious chronic illness. Over time this takes pressure off public services such as the NHS and Emergency Services, as clients are less likely to rely on them for help.

The befriending service can be mutually beneficial to both clients and volunteers, improving confidence and social interaction for the client, and developing empathy and compassion in the volunteer.

Although volunteering can be very rewarding, many people are worried about committing to it, often due to a perceived lack of time. But being a befriending volunteer can fit around other commitments; volunteers have one client at a time and visit them once a week.

If you think you would like to be a befriending volunteer and help improve, and possibly save, someone’s life then contact Janet Stocks on 0114 242 7376, or email JStocks@redcross.org.uk