A conference aimed at encouraging more people to befriend the elderly and vulnerable has succeeded in enlisting 18 new recruits.
The event was held last week in Oakham to make people aware of Rutland’s desperate need for volunteer visitors because of the rising number of “very lonely and isolated” residents in the county.
As a result of the event organised by Age UK Leicestershire and Rutland, 18 people signed up to volunteer as befrienders, while seven registered ahead of the event as a result of an article in the Mercury, Age UK’s Oakham co-ordinator Lisa Jackson said.
Mrs Jackson warned that the statistics for lonely elderly were frightening as more and more elderly and vulnerable people in Rutland chose to remain in their own homes rather than go into care.
“The conference was aimed at raising awareness and getting more volunteers,” Mrs Jackson said.
“And all those who attended were very sincere. Many of them also promised to spread the message so more people will sign up.”
By 2015, one in five of Rutland’s elderly will be living alone and be isolated.
The 2011 census predicts a 70 per cent rise in the over-65 group from 2013 to 2030 in Rutland and a 40 per cent increase in the over-75 group.
Mrs Jackson said: “The need is rising every year. Volunteers only need to give an hour every fortnight.
“Any contact is better than none, particularly with the winter months coming up.”
Anyone who can give up an hour every fortnight or weekly should contact Ms Jackson on 01572 770324.