SIX employees at a North-East building society have volunteered to help tackle a “loneliness epidemic” amongst older people after a charity issued an urgent appeal.

Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington this week launched a “Good Friends” campaign in response to a mounting mental health crisis due to older people feeling isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.

A new survey carried out by the charity showed that 95 per cent of those who responded have felt lonely during the lockdown.

Now, six members of staff at Darlington Building Society, have come forward to say they want to help.

Age UK is appealing for volunteering befrienders to talk to older people on the phone or pop round to their homes for a chat and a cuppa under social distancing rules.

Other volunteering needs are delivering hot meals and food parcels, collecting shopping and prescriptions, accompanying older people to activities, assisting with light household tasks, and dog-walking.

As well as recently making a five-year commitment to donate five per cent of its profits to good causes, Darlington Building Society gives all members of staff two paid days a year to volunteer in the community.

Last year, Darlington Building Society staff contributed 169 volunteering days, supporting 48 community organisations and 19,700 individuals.

Chief Executive Andrew Craddock said: “Being part of the community is part of the ethos at Darlington Building Society – our staff want to make a difference wherever possible.

“The ‘Good Friends’ campaign being launched by Age UK gets to the heart of a really urgent issue in the communities we serve, and I am proud that six of our staff were among the first to step forward to help.”

Helen Hunter, chief executive of Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington, said: “We have had a heart-warming response to the Good Friends campaign, and it’s wonderful to have a high-profile local organisation like Darlington Building Society leading the way.”

  • Anyone who wishes to become a Good Friend should contact Volunteer Manager Lynn Walton on (01325) 362832 or at lynn.walton@ageuknyd.org.uk