VULNERABLE elderly people no longer face suffering loneliness, thanks to a volunteers who have spent twenty years visiting a host of homes.

The Horwich Visiting Service is celebrating its twentieth anniversary at the heart of the community, promising a friendly face to around 30 people in need of respite every week. The service, established in April 1999, operates entirely voluntarily as "a charity run for local people by local people".

A roster of 40 volunteers go out to residents, often elderly, for hour-long befriending visits, but these regularly run on as the volunteers and residents form close friendships.

Lesley Youngman, the Horwich Visiting Service co-ordinator said: "Our volunteers are the greatest people, giving their time to chat to people in their own homes to try to bring friendship, laughter and enjoyment into the lives of the vulnerable and and lonely, many of whom rarely get out and about."

Ms Youngman added: "When we visit we also offer a short respite for some of our visitees’ full time carers, to give them a little time to themselves, knowing that the people they care for are in safe hands, being entertained with a cuppa and a chat."

The confidential service is the only registered charity visiting group in the area and is dependent on council grants and donations. The service is always looking for volunteers and says its a rewarding experience. Ms Youngman said: "It not only gives [volunteers'] lives additional purpose but also brings insight into the colourful lives of the people being visited."