A CHARITY has been awarded around £37,000 to extend a vital befriending scheme less than a year after it was launched.

Lonely and isolated people across Castle Point have been benefitting from the scheme since last May, which aims to help them become better integrated in society.

The year-long pilot scheme, operated by the Castle Point Association of Voluntary Services in Benfleet, was originally targeted at people in Canvey but was expanded to cover all GPs and care homes in the borough after just three weeks.

Now the charity is extending the project for another year, and is looking at the possibility of launching it in Rochford after receiving additional funding from the Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group and Family Mosaic.

Kirsty O’Callaghan, CEO of CAVS, said: “We are really really pleased with how this past year has gone and delighted that we have been able to expand the project. We have been able to help and engage with so many people and have a fantastic team of volunteers who really are the driving force and the community champions behind the scheme.

“It is of such huge benefit to anyone who feels isolated, lonely, or even just looking to improve their confidence getting out and about within the community. It is such a lovely story and we just really want people to make use of the service.”

Residents can be referred to the service through their GP.

Currently more than 30 volunteers visit 30 people across Castle Point, helping them carry out everyday tasks and hobbies.

However, more volunteers are needed in order to expand the project so the charity is appealing to kind-hearted residents to volunteer a few hours of their time to help the project grow.

Beverley Parrish who co-ordinates the project said “Both the volunteers and those they visit benefit from the social interaction so it’s a win-win project. I have seen how the volunteers themselves have developed in confidence through the training and ‘feel good’ factor of giving something back to society whilst those they visit now have something to look forward when previously they could have gone weeks without speaking to anyone.”

Volunteers, who must be over 18, will receive full training and no previous experience is required.

For more information Beverley Parrish at CAVS on 01268 638416 or email beverley.parrish@castlepointavs.org.uk