VOLUNTEERS are needed to provide an important lifeline for older people.

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Age UK Suffolk is looking for more helpers to meet the demand for its befriending service. The charity is especially keen to hear from people in the Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal areas who would like to be a “lead volunteer”.

Joan Cattermole, from Kesgrave, has been part of the befriending service for around 18 months. She is also the first person to take on the lead volunteer role as part of the befriending service in Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal.

The 68-year-old, who used to work in the health service, said: “I organise a regular get together for my group of volunteers and we share our experiences and provide general support for one another, talking through what we have been doing. I’m the first point of contact for anyone who might have any concerns or any particular issues they need to discuss.”

Mrs Cattermole, whose husband, Alan, 70, also volunteers for Age UK Suffolk, said they decided to get involved after moving back from Spain. “I’ve always had an affinity for older people,” she said. “I knew I wanted to do something and it was then I noticed an advert for the befriending scheme. That’s what spurred me on. It’s been wonderful. I really enjoy it. I would say to anyone who is thinking about it, ‘give it a try’. I get so much out of it. Age UK Suffolk match you to an older person with similar interests, you have a meeting together and if you both like each other you’re away.

“I visit two people – one in Kesgrave and another in Woobridge. I go and have a chat and a cup of tea with them in their own homes and it’s something we look forward to. You just need to be interested in people, ready to listen and a have a smile on your face.”

To apply to be a befriending volunteer email volunteer@ageuksuffolk.org or call 01473 298684. Alternatively call befriending manager Allan Williams on 01473 353060 for an informal discussion.

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