Become a befriender in Norwich and improve your community

Improving your community for the better can be as simple as giving up two hours a week.

Taking the time to be a friendly face for those on their own can make a difference not only to them, but the wider community.

Brian Horner, chief executive of Voluntary Norfolk, says the opportunities offered through the organisation can help bolster community spirit.

The Evening News is supporting Voluntary Norfolk's community befrienders programme, which is already changing life for the better for people across Norwich.

Mr Horner said: 'There are pressures on people and communities when people move into new areas, and it's easy for them to get isolated. That's why we don't only support volunteers, but also voluntary organisations, so that people can join together in groups such as residents' associations.

'If you are in a stable community, you will know your neighbours. Linking up with others for volunt-ary work can be a really effective way of restoring community spirit.'

People eligible for the befriending service include those living with disability or mental illness, but also those whose circumstances have left them isolated – people like Florence Clark.

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When she moved to Norfolk, the 96-year-old found she was on her own a lot of the time, and signed up for the befriending scheme about a year ago.

She now receives a weekly visit from Jacqui Cameron.

Mrs Cameron said: 'Florence has had a tremendously interesting life. We have never ever struggled for subjects to talk about.'

During the week, Mrs Clark also goes to church and has a carer who comes in every morning.

The widow, who is a great-grandmother, said: 'I wish I knew about the befriending scheme when I first moved here. I didn't know anyone and it makes a big difference when somebody comes in.'

To find out how you can join Voluntary Norfolk's befriending scheme, call 01603 614474, email admin@voluntarynorfolk.org.uk or visit www.voluntarynorfolk.org.uk

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