A LEADING local charity has issued an urgent appeal for volunteers.

Ilkley and District Good Neighbours offers social and practical support to older or infirm people through its team of volunteers who help individuals in the community through its projects, which include Befriending, Moving On, Home and Garden Assist, Social Events, and Shop Assist.

The charity is looking for local people who are willing to spend a little of their time working with one of their schemes, which could be befriending someone who lives independently but who perhaps due to circumstances feels isolated, or assisting someone who has difficulty in accessing the shops.

“Our team of volunteers make a real difference to the lives of many older residents,” said chair and trustee Penny Coulthard. “Volunteering for a couple of hours a week can make a huge difference by helping them cope with challenges, whether it’s loneliness, or on a practical level helping an individual make a trip to the local supermarket

“It also of course works both ways: volunteering can provide a new personal rewarding interest and makes use of someone’s skills and experience, whether it’s a parent with a bit of time on their hands now that the children are back at school, or a retired person who wants to give something back to the community.”

Befriending volunteer Clare said: “I’ve been with the scheme for a few years now and I really enjoy being part of it. As well as giving back something to older people, I also look forward to my visits which help balance my own week.

“When I happened to lose one of the people I used to befriend, it was hard, but I knew my visits made a difference and so I can take comfort in the fact we enjoyed our time together.”

As the charity grows it has meant there is an urgent requirement for volunteers to help with the Shop Assist project. Currently it has a waiting list of 20 clients. Volunteers need a driving licence, and access to a car. Mileage allowance and out of pocket expenses will be paid. All the Shop Assist clients live in the Ilkley, Addingham, and Burley areas.

Shop Assist Co-ordinator Judith Ellis said: “We’re looking for people with patience and understanding, who are happy to spend a short time just once a week or fortnight with an older person to help them feel they are still independent.”

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer call 01943 603348 or email info@goodneighboursilkley.org,uk