A service to support vulnerable adults who may be facing loneliness, isolation, illness, disabilities or other difficulties was officially launched on Wednesday this week (January 17).
Called Community Angels, it is being run by the Guildford Town Centre Chaplaincy that already runs the successful Street Angels project, in which volunteers provide a calming presence late at night in and around the town centre bars.
Now, trained volunteers with Community Angels will commit to regular visits to people who live in the town centre and close surrounding wards providing companionship and encouraging those they help to reconnect with their local communities.
At the launch, held at St Saviour’s Church, town centre chaplain Rod Boreham said that the percentage of people over the age of 65 in Guildford is growing and that there is concern that those who are isolated or lonely are “slipping through the net” when it comes to providing them with help and support.
Rachel Guilford is co-ordinating the Community Angels project. At the launch she said that it has been estimated that there are around 1,500 older people in Guildford who are lonely and at times have a lack of contact with society.
There are many reason why and Rachel outlined these that include: having mental health issues, being bereaved, breakdowns in family relationships, feeling trapped in their homes and life becoming a cycle that is hard to break. Some are disabled or have dementia. Even carers for those in need can feel lonely themselves due to the pressure of their day-to-day living.
She added that this can then have a negative impact on a person’s health leading to depression, anxiety and symptoms such as high blood pressure.
Volunteer Community Angels can help people in those situations and in turn reduce the strain on statuary services.
Rachel said that simply listening to people who are lonely is a key thing, along with befriending them, and reconnecting them with others people in their communities.
In turn, this helps to empower people to make positive changes in their lives themselves. She also noted that it has been encouraging to hear that the Government is appointing a minister for loneliness, a post created following a report on loneliness made by the now late Jo Cox MP.
The Guildford Community Angels project has just begun, and there are already five volunteers who have been trained and are ready to go out and help people. More are needed to begin this vital work.
Rachel Guilford is experienced in this type of project. She previously co-ordinated Neighbourhood Angels, a similar scheme that was run by the Diocese of Guildford’s Community Engagement Team until its funding ran out.
If you would like more information about Guildford Community Angels call 07825 799309. Referrals of people who may benefit from the service are also welcome. Call the number above.
You can also make contract be email at firstname.lastname@example.org
More details on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ComAngelsGFD/
The project has received some funding, but more is needed. There will be fundraising quiz night on Saturday, January 24, at 7pm, being held at Christ Church in Waterden Road. Teams of six to eight people can be entered. To book call 01483 301927, or call Fiona Ford at the Guildford Town Centre Chaplaincy on 07717 876853.
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