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Connect at Christmas: Befriending service continues to support the elderly

Project coordinator Olushola Ajide and Lord Provost Barney Crockett.
Project coordinator Olushola Ajide and Lord Provost Barney Crockett.

The coordinator of an Aberdeen befriending service has said it is more vital than ever as he appealed for more volunteers to come forward in 2021.

Linking Lives Aberdeen works to reduce loneliness and social isolation by pairing up volunteers with elderly people who would benefit from a chat.

Project coordinator Olushola Ajide has been running the service since last February and knows how difficult the festive period can be – even before coronavirus restricted time with loved ones.

He said: “We focus on decimating and reducing loneliness and social isolation in the city. We have an ageing population and quite a lot of people are lonely.

“During the festive season more than a quarter of a million people will only have their TV as company.

“This is why the service we provide is very important.

“We want to increase our referrals and volunteers to ensure that no one is left alone.”

Before lockdown, volunteers would attend the home of their “link friend” to spend around an hour or two with them every week, but this had to stop in March.

The befriending group then very quickly moved to a new initiative and set up a phone call service with volunteers calling people once a week.

Mr Ajide added: “For those receiving phone calls it’s been great. They’re appreciative of the fact they feel helped and less lonely. They look forward to the call – it helps their mental well being.”

Linking Lives receives referrals from local organisations, friends and family members. Volunteers are fully vetted and trained before being linked up with someone matching their interests and personality.

To find out more about volunteering, visit https://linkinglives.uk/aberdeen/contact

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