John appointed to head up volunteer service
Published by Kelly Elliott for Derwentside Homes Ltd in Housing and also in Communities
Pictured is John Atkinson, who has joined Derwentside Homes to head up the association’s Silver Knowledge project
A scheme which offers help, support and a listening ear to elderly and isolated people across North Durham is ready to launch after recruiting a project supervisor.
John Atkinson has joined Derwentside Homes to coordinate the Silver Knowledge project – a Lottery-funded telephone befriending scheme which will provide elderly people with regular phone contact.
The project will be run by volunteers and one of John’s first tasks has been to recruit a team of people to make the phone calls.
John said: “This is a great volunteering opportunity and will be very rewarding. We will be providing all the training needed, such as dealing with people on the phone, getting a conversation going and handling confidentiality issues.
“We will be working with a number of different agencies so our volunteers do not have to worry about being experts at dealing with issues such as health care – they just have to be able to identify any potential problems which can then be referred onto the appropriate organisation.”
The Silver Knowledge projecthas been awarded £99,475 from The Big Lottery Fund’s Silver Dreams Fund and is being led by Derwentside Homes, with support from partners Durham County Council, Durham City Homes, Durham Council for Voluntary Service,the Mid Durham Area Action Partnership and NHS County Durham and Darlington.
People wishing to use the telephone chat service can either refer themselves directly or be referred by family, friends or other local agencies, with the service user’s permission.
Phone calls will be made as often as required, from every day to just once every few weeks, and will last on average around 15 minutes.
John said: “Knowing that there will be someone calling at the same time every day or week is a huge reassurance to older people, especially those who may not have any other form of regular contact.
“The idea is that this is a service run by older people for older people, although of course we welcome volunteers of all ages.”
Already seven people have signed up to be volunteers, with training being provided by Durham City District Council for Voluntary Service (CVS).
John has over 20 years experience working in the voluntary sector, including establishing a successful volunteer-run alcohol recovery group for Durham City CVS.
Anyone who is interested in either becoming a volunteer or using the Silver Knowledge service can call 0800 093 0092 for more information.