Lonely residents welcomed to take advantage of new free services in Sid Valley

Anyone struggling with loneliness and isolation will soon be able to make the most of a range of free new services.

Sid Valley HELP (SVH) has been working hard to bring help services in the area under one umbrella.

Di Fuller, of SVH, said: "There is currently little support in Sidmouth for people who are lonely and under 60 years of age.

"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."

A 'befriending service' has now been launched for people who are housebound or isolated due to illness, disability or other reasons.

This will see volunteers go out and spend about an hour once a week or once a fortnight meeting up with people in their homes for a chat. A weekly 'new mums' group will also begin on Monday, May 13 from 1am until 3pm at Stowford Children's Centre.

Mrs Fuller said: "If you have a baby younger than 12-months-old, then come along for a cuppa with others and share experiences."

A fortnightly 'tea and chat' session will be held at The Mustard Seed cafe on Thursday afternoons between 3pm and 4pm on May 16, May 30, June 13, June 27, July 11 and July 25.

From June 1, monthly Saturday coffee mornings will be offered for ladies between 50 and 70-years-old from 10.30am and 12.30am at Hotel Elizabeth. Mrs Fuller said: "If you still work or are recently retired and do not have a social network in the town, then come along.

"There is no agenda, just a coffee, chat and a laugh."

She added SVH also needs more volunteers for a range of activities as well as those who would like to work with younger age groups or spend about an hour once a week or once a fortnight meeting up with people in their home for a chat. Mrs Fuller said: "If you know of people who you think are lonely tell them about what is on offer or contact us and tell us what sort of support they might like."

SVH's Signposting service also provides free and confidential information and advice on health and care support services for residents who are ill, lonely or in life-changing circumstances.

Call 01395 892011, visit sidvalleyhelp.org.uk or visit the Leigh Brown Room, Dissenters Chapel, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am and 12pm.