West Norfolk Befriending team celebrates 15 years of care

Borough Mayor Carol Bower and Trustee John Blake with volunteers and clients. MLNF17PF11001
Borough Mayor Carol Bower and Trustee John Blake with volunteers and clients. MLNF17PF11001

A charity working to tackle social isolation in older people living in West Norfolk is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

West Norfolk Befriending works to service the elderly by enhancing their quality of life, maintaining their independence, reducing isolation, improving their physical and mental wellbeing, and identifying risks to health and environment.

The charity, which was set up in partnership with Age Concern West Norfolk, West Norfolk Carers Association and West Norfolk Deaf Association in 2002, currently has around 50 volunteers and 45 clients.

Chief executive of West Norfolk Befriending, Pippa May, said: “We have a lot of volunteers who take up different positions. Some volunteers see clients, some do admin jobs and some help to organise events.

“We currently have around 50 volunteers and 45 clients. Those numbers are just what we are at now, they are always changing. Last year, we helped more than 100 clients.

“We no longer receive funding from Norfolk County Council. We rely on small grants, Awards for All grants, which comes to an end soon, and donations. What we really need is stable long-term funding.”

Borough Mayor Carol Bower attended West Norfolk Befriending’s celebratory meal at King’s Lynn Masonic Centre on Tuesday, to congratulate the team on their work.

She said: “Some 15 years ago someone had a brilliant idea. This group is wonderful and the work they do is truly brilliant.

“In a rural area like West Norfolk it is important for older people to see other people and have a conversation.

“It can make a huge difference to somebody’s life, and you can see this by the work they are doing. It is wonderful. Every human needs human contact.”

Development worker Anna Sylvester said a volunteer is out almost every day visiting a client as they work to “bring the outside in” to older people.