Sid Valley HELP campaign hopes to offer befriending for all to tackle isolation in young and old

Originally posted in the Sidmouth Herald.

Befriending for younger people is among the services a new charity would like to offer if it can secure the finances and volunteers.

Sid Valley HELP (SVH) has set a fundraising target of £60,000, during the next three years to get the scheme up and running and has joined forces with the Herald to raise awareness about its aims.

SVH chairman Di Fuller said that feeling lonely can happen at any age with new figures revealing that people aged 16 to 24 feel alone more intensely and frequently than any other age group.

In the nationwide survey by the BBC, 40 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds said they feel lonely often or very often, compared to 29 per cent of those aged 65 to 74 and 27 per cent over the age 75.

Di said: “We do need to recognise that many young people in our local communities may be feeling lonely.

“These findings are rather surprising as we assume that lonely people are generally elderly. However, young people may be going through periods of major changes in their lives without the experience of knowing how to deal with them,

“Young people up to 30 years old may go through large life decisions, like moving from school to college at 16, moving away from home to university at 18, experiencing bereavement of an older relative that they are close to, starting paid employment and all of the changes to their routine that brings.

“Another big life change comes with becoming a parent and the shift from a busy social life and employment to the restriction that being at home with a baby brings.”

A recent survey from SVH highlighted the need for support to people under the age of 60 affected by loneliness.

“These may be people who live alone, who are recently bereaved or separated, who have few friends, have recently moved here, have a long term illness or a disability or who have maybe lost their confidence to go out and meet people,” said Di, “We need funding to help us coordinate and train volunteers, but we also need volunteers who would like to work with younger age groups.”

Sid Valley HELP provides free and confidential information. To find out more visit or speak to someone on 01395 892011 or 07378 964521, or drop in to the Leigh Brown Room, Dissenters Chapel on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am and midday.