THE News has asked generous readers to think of the most vulnerable people in our communities over the festive period.
As part of our wide-reaching Christmas campaign, Don’t Let Them Be Lonely, The News made a call for volunteers to sign up to befriend older, isolated people and volunteer to help those who have no family members do the things we take for granted.
Our night editor Tom Morton has been volunteering for the Salvation Army’s befriending service for the past four years.
Each week he spends a couple of hours with an elderly gentleman who is no longer able to get out of the house and was lacking meaningful contact with the outside world until he was matched with Tom by the charity.
Since then, they have built a friendship and Tom, 38, who lives in Southsea, said he has gained so much from it.
‘I was new to the area and because I work nights I was looking for something useful to do with my days,’ said Tom.
‘The strange thing is that I actually saw the advert in The News.
‘I went along to the Salvation Army and they put me in touch with someone they thought I would get along with.
‘Because I’m not from Portsmouth I thought it would be great to talk to somebody from here and learn a bit more about the city.
‘Talking to my friend has given me history from the perspective of someone who lived here in the 1930s and 1940s.’
Tom said he got a great deal of satisfaction from knowing that he has helped someone.
He added: ‘It’s great to see the smile on his face when I walk in.’
For many older people across the area life can be very lonely.
According to Age UK Portsmouth, many can go months without even having a conversation with someone.
The charity, in, Fratton, runs day services for the most vulnerable and isolated people. On December 23 it will be throwing a Christmas party for people who may not be spending the festive period with family and friends.
And our generous readers have donated scores of presents to give to partygoers on the day.