IT’S been one year since Helensburgh’s own volunteer befriending service gained charitable status – and the group is on the lookout for more local volunteers to help it reach out to people who are vulnerable or lonely.

Visiting Friends now occupies its own office space on the first floor at 101-103 East Clyde Street, above Helensburgh Subaru, and manager Jayne Burnett says the privately-funded service has gone from strength to strength since its official launch in November.

Jayne, who has been with Visiting Friends since 2015, said: “It’s been wonderful to see Visiting Friends develop and expand, but we simply couldn’t do that without our fantastic volunteers.

“Loneliness causes so many physical and mental health problems, but it’s great that the solution is relatively simple and lies within our own community.

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“The best bit about volunteering with someone who is feeling isolated or lonely is that the benefits not only extend to them and their families, but the volunteer too.”

Among the match-ups on Visiting Friends’ books are Sue Stewart and Barbara Claughan, who have been Visiting Friends for three years.

Barbara admits that her mobility issues make her really isolated and Sue’s regular weekly visits give her something to look forward to.

Barbara said: “I can’t believe how much we have in common. Sue knows a lot of the same people, and I don’t think of her as my volunteer – she’s simply become a lovely, helpful friend.”

Sue, meanwhile, worked locally for many years and saw first-hand how loneliness can affect people.

After she stopped working she joined Visiting Friends because she wanted to make a difference.

“All I’m doing is giving my time,” she said.

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“I really enjoy Barbara’s company – she’s a great Archers fan too and we have such a laugh.

“I can even help her get out and about a bit more. All those little conversations with people she knows in the supermarket help keep her connected. I’d recommend volunteering with Visiting Friends to anyone.”

Visiting Friends is always looking for volunteers aged 18 and above who can give a couple of hours a week in the morning or afternoon.

To find out more about volunteering with them, contact Jayne or part-time co-ordinator Debbie Beggs on 01436 269336, or pop into the office during their opening hours (Monday-Thursday, 9am-3pm).