Published: 10:30, 20 May 2018
A befriending service to lonely and isolated older people has had to put a halt on taking new members.
Since starting in 2014, West Kent Befriending Service has had around 600 referrals, currently meeting 87 older people in Maidstone and surrounding villages.
But with just one full time member of staff, the service has announced it will be stop taking referrals for the next six weeks.
Instead it hopes to raise money for a part time member of staff to help alleviate the pressure.
Befriending coordinator for Age UK Maidstone, Wendy Pfeiffer will be travelling on buses and sitting in cafes next week to have a natter with residents and spread awareness of the urgent campaign.
She said: “Older people just love to sit and chat, I’m hoping to get out and talk to people and stop others just looking at their phones.
“Our most isolated members don’t have any other visitors.
“Some might have carers, but as fantastic as they are, they don’t always have the time.
“Its good for someone to visit who isn’t there to do the shopping or cook, but just to come and see our members for a chat.
“We have about 98 registered volunteers and they all do a brilliant job, I know a lot of them go above and beyond for each member.”
Age UK Maidstone hopes to raise £5,000 to hire a part time assistant to help with general admin.
Without a new role, Ms Pfeiffer fears the halt on referrals could stretch on.
She said: “On average we receive four to six referrals each week, and we will review the situation in six weeks.
“Its a big amount to raise, I’d love for a business to support us and provide some match funding.
“The new mayor, David Naghi has made us one of his charities and Invicta Grammar is also supporting us.”
From May 21st, Ms Pfeiffer will be heading out to cafes and bus stops in her ‘fancy a natter?’ sash ready to talk with anyone who fancies a chat.
Further times are yet to be confirmed, but on May 22, she will be at Maidstone Hospital from 8am to 4pm to meet patients.
To donate, visit tinyurl.com/haveanatter, or to help get people talking, contact Ms Pfeiffer on 07808 711353 or email@example.com.
Ms Pfeiffer will be at the following locations next week:
Costa Coffee, King Street, Maidstone - 8am to 11am
Cafe @ Plus1 and front entrance of Maidstone Hospital - All day.
Finch House, Cafe and Bakery, 82 Week Street, Maidstone - 8.30am to 11am
Route 10X bus from Maidstone to Lenham - Departs at 12.50pm.
Pippa's Tea Rooms, The Square, Lenham - 1.30pm to 2.30pm
Route 10X bus from Lenham to Maidstone - Departs at 3pm
The Mall, Pad's Hill, Maidstone - 9.30am to 11.30am
The Pavillion, Mote park - 12pm to 2pm
Harpers Coffee and Gifts, 12 Market Buildings - 2pm to 4pm
Maidstone Museum cafe, St Faith's Street, Maidsotne - 10am to 12pm