GENEROUS readers of The News have been signing up in their droves to volunteer as part of our Christmas campaign.
We feel very encouraged that there is such great Christmas spirit out there. It’s fantastic.Freya Savidge-Conway
Later this month Age UK Portsmouth is giving a Christmas dinner to 30 older people who would otherwise be on their own during the festive season.
Presents from generous readers are piling up, ready for them to unwrap on the day.
And volunteers are stepping forward for befriending services across Portsmouth and the rest of The News patch.
Simon Molyneux, the chairman of Waterlooville, Purbrook and Cowplain Good Neighbours, said: ‘We have been contacted by two people who are interested in finding out more about us as a direct result of The News’ loneliness articles.
‘The News really can make a difference.
‘Throughout the year volunteers have been helping people in the area with their shopping, taking them shopping, taking them to hospitals and surgeries, taking them out for short leisure trips, or visiting them at home.
‘They help anyone who can’t use public transport or taxis, and anyone who is lonely and can’t get out to meet others.
‘One of the people helped recently phoned us and said “Thank you so much for taking me to QA yesterday. Your volunteer was wonderful. He helped me to the department I wanted, stayed with me in the waiting area, then took me back.
‘He was so nice, it was like going with a friend, and I couldn’t have done it without him. Thank you”.’
The Salvation Army runs a befriending service in Portsmouth called Good Neighbours which also needs volunteers.
They visit people who otherwise might not see or speak to anyone for months, and offer real friendship to those who are alone.
Freya Savidge-Conway, the Good Neighbours co-ordinator, said: ‘The phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the appeal appeared in The News.
‘People have said how they have seen it in The News and really want to volunteer.
‘We feel very encouraged that there is such great Christmas spirit out there. It’s fantastic.
‘It’s a great feeling when you are able to match a volunteer to the right client. You have to make sure you put the right people together.
‘And when it works it is wonderful.’