A charity group is to launch a new hospital buddy service for elderly people after securing almost £286,000 of lottery funding.
Officials from Swaffham and District Age Concern say the grant will also help them to extend the befriending scheme they already run to a wider area.
The group’s treasurer, James Dean, said: “We’re very, very pleased. We put a lot of work into the application.”
The branch’s previous grant to run its befriending programme ran out last month.
But Mr Dean said the new award, which will fund five years of work, will enable the group to help people over a much wider area.
He said: “We covered places within a five mile radius of Swaffham. It’s now going to be 10 miles.”
The buddy programme, which is now set to be launched this autumn, is intended not only to help people get to medical appointments, but to support them while they are there.
Mr Dean said the scheme was particularly important for people who would otherwise be reliant on public transport to get to hospital or to their GP and who cannot afford taxi fares.
Clients will be referred to the group either through social services or GP surgeries.
And Mr Dean believes that will have much wider benefits than to the individuals themselves.
He said: “Our expectation is to reduce the Do Not Attend figures for hospitals and surgeries.”
Four new members of staff are to be appointed to lead the programme. The branch currently has around 40 volunteers.