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Business & Economy

Darlington Building Society staff volunteer to help tackle loneliness among older people

Employees at a North East building society have volunteered to help tackle a “loneliness epidemic” among older people after a charity issued an urgent appeal.

Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington this week launched a “Good Friends” campaign in response to a mounting mental health crisis, which has seen older people feeling isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.

A new survey carried out by the charity showed that 95 per cent of those who responded have felt lonely during the lockdown.

Now, six members of staff at Darlington Building Society have come forward to say they want to help.

Age UK is appealing for volunteering befrienders to talk to older people on the phone or pop round to their homes for a COVID-secure chat.

Other volunteering activities needed are things like delivering hot meals and food parcels, collecting shopping and prescription, accompanying older people to activities, assisting with light household tasks and dog-walking.

Last year, Darlington Building Society staff contributed 169 volunteering days, supporting 48 community organisations and 19,700 individuals.

Chief executive Andrew Craddock said: “Being part of the community is part of the ethos at Darlington Building Society – our staff want to make a difference wherever possible.

“The ‘Good Friends’ campaign being launched by Age UK gets to the heart of a really urgent issue in the communities we serve, and I am proud that six of our staff were among the first to step forward to help.”

Helen Hunter, chief executive of Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington, added: “We have had a heart-warming response to the Good Friends campaign, and it’s wonderful to have a high-profile local organisation like Darlington Building Society leading the way.”