A scheme to befriend lonely elderly people in Brighton and Hove has been such a success it should be rolled out nationally, a charity said today.
Counsel and Care, a national charity working with older people, has used the city’s Neighbourhood Care Scheme as proof that befriending can save millions in the long run.
It estimates if the scheme was implemented across the UK, almost half a million people’s lives could be transformed for 120million.
Stephen Burke, chief executive of the older people’s charity Counsel and Care, said: “Befriending is so cost-effective that better promotion and funding of schemes across the country is a really affordable way of preventing isolation and loneliness for older people.
“Loneliness and social isolation are key public policy concerns, with a huge negative impact on individual older people and the community as a whole. Befriending relationships can act as a catalyst for positive change for both individuals and the wider community.”
In the year up to March 31st 2009, te Brighton and Hove scheme enabled 175 volunteers to make 3911 visitis and provide more than 7100 hours of direct neighbourly support to 208 individuals.
Counsel and Care, a national charity working with older people, estimates that £70 million of public funding, with an extra £50 million from non-statutory sources, could enable 480,000 older people to access the benefits of befriending, supported by 240,000 volunteers.
It is now establishing a national network of befriending schemes for older people.