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West Kent Befriending Service needs your help to keep supporting lonely and isolated people

By Luke May

Lonely and isolated people are in need of the public's help to keep getting support.

West Kent Befriending Service is a lifeline to lonely, often older widowed, people. Its volunteers dedicate their time to visiting members so they can see a friendly face.

But the free service is in need of donations.

Volunteers from West Kent Befriending Service spoke at the launch of its Supporting Friendships campaign today (8305730)
Volunteers from West Kent Befriending Service spoke at the launch of its Supporting Friendships campaign today (8305730)

Right now the service visits 125 people each week. Each person is assigned one volunteer and they soon become close friends.

With new referrals constantly coming in the service launched its Supporting Friendships campaign in a bid to keep self-sufficient.

West Kent Befriending Service manager Wendy Pfeiffer said: "There are 23 people referred to us who are asking for someone to show they care.

"That's 23 faceless, nameless people to you, but they're people who felt so alone they've turned to the befriending service.

"If we don't receive financial stability, what's going to happen to those people? Or the 10 or 20 people who will be referred to us next month?"

Maidstone and The Weald MP Helen Grant is an ambassador for the campaign, along with her predecessor Ann Widdecombe.

Mrs Grant said she was "inspired" by the work of Wendy Pfeiffer and the befriending service.

She added: "Loneliness doesn't just affect older people, it affects young people and it's affected me

"The befriending service is all about recognising when someone needs something and responding to it."

Today's launch heard words from one member, who wrote: "Sometimes I feel four walls have become a prison.

"I see my befriending volunteer as a lifeline to the outside world - long may his visits continue."

Last year the service set up a Talking Bus, encouraging lonely people to get on board for day trips, including a trip to a cat cafe.

It came after a summer of fundraising led by the manager after the charity had to close referrals.

Thousands of pounds was raised, which meant a new member of staff could be hired and referrals reopened.

The service has received support from Invicta Grammar School and is one of the mayor's charities this year.

Both are ambassadors for the latest campaign.

Van Bui, head of upper school at Invicta, said: "What they're doing is inspirational to us. The befriending service is very close to our heart. Each and every one of our students has got a lonely relative.

"Each year our students raise at least £50,000 for different charities and the befriending service is one of them.

"We're going to do anything we can to keep this service alive and growing."

To lend your support click here.

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