A Helensburgh-based organisation that has been successfully tackling the big issues of social isolation and loneliness is set to celebrate its new status as a registered Scottish charity.

Initially established in 2013, Visiting Friends provides a free, one-to-one volunteer befriending service for elderly people in Helensburgh and the surrounding areas.

And the group will be holding a special event at the Helensburgh Civic Centre on Tuesday, November 6 to mark the significant milestone.

Manager Jayne Burnett said: “It’s increasingly recognised that this is a national problem and it affects people of all ages across the social divide.

“It’s particularly prevalent in the elderly who are more at risk because of issues such as poor mobility, living alone and sensory impairment.

“Becoming a charity consolidates the important service we provide; Visiting Friends has always been at the forefront of tackling loneliness and we work closely with other statutory services and third sector organisations to ensure that we are an integral part of the local community.”

It is calculated that social isolation and loneliness – which affects both physical and mental health – can increase the risk of death by 29 per cent. An estimated 1.2 million Brits suffer from chronic loneliness and are 50% more likely to die prematurely than people with good social networks, making it as big a mortality risk as diabetes.

As an established presence in the local community, Visiting Friends’ focus and experience will make it a key organisation in a national strategy to tackle the problems.

Jayne added: “Volunteers are simply required to commit to a once-a-week visit. At Visiting Friends our motto is ‘Friendship Matters’ because having friends and keeping connected are absolutely vital to remaining healthy.

“Make someone happy – and you’ll be happy too!”

To register your interest in volunteering, call 01436 671 613, asking for Jayne or Debbie, or email jayne@visitingfriends.org.