A new project has been launched to tackle loneliness for people of all ages in North Yorkshire villages. As well as recruiting volunteers to visit lonely people and drivers to help provide transport for people in villages near Ripon, the scheme organisers also want to identify those who would appreciate some company or non-urgent lifts.
The scheme has been set up by the Churches of the United Benefice of Bishop Thornton, Burnt Yates, Markington, Ripley and South Stainley, which are working with the Ripon and Rural Wellbeing Service.
The project, which is called the Markington Wellbeing Service, was launched after a party in Markington Village Hall, near Ripon, where about 60 villagers found out more about the plans.
Penny Manock, one of the organisers, said: “People are often lonelier in the villages than in towns because public transport isn’t as widely available, so it isn’t as easy to jump on a bus and go and visit people. In the countryside people often become a lot more isolated.
“We’d like to identify those who would benefit from this service. This is a difficult process and must be handled sensitively because not everyone who is alone is lonely.
“We can offer lifts to the doctor’s or the shops, or even to visit a relative or friend in another village. This could make the world of difference to someone who might not see anyone else for days.”
Organisers hope the transport scheme will charge 45p per mile, along with a £1 booking fee.
Mrs Manock, from Markington, is also urging anyone with spare time to volunteer.
“People who volunteer will get an enormous sense of well-being. It’s a lovely thing to feel that you are making a difference to someone’s life. Just having a different conversation about different things will be a huge boost for some people,” added Mrs Manock.
“Our job now is to raise awareness about the scheme, draw up a list of volunteers and identify which villagers would benefit from a visit or a lift.”
Julie Proudler, service co-ordinator for the Ripon and Rural Wellbeing Service, which is part of HELP, the Harrogate Easier Living Project, said: “It was such a pleasure to welcome so many local people and to let them know how, in relatively simple ways, they can help make a real difference to people in their own community.
“But before we can start reaching out to people in need, we need to attract, recruit and train a team of volunteers. We’re hoping our launch has been a catalyst for getting people involved.”
For information about the service or to volunteer, contact Julie Proudler on 01765 645915.