A CHARITY created to help the elderly has prevented over 100 vulnerable older people from being completely socially isolated during the pandemic.

Age UK Bolton has paired 142 older people with volunteers who are working as part of the charity’s befriending service.

Usually, the organisation would offer group sessions, but has been forced to change its way of working because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Suzanne Hilton, chief executive of the charity, said: “Obviously we can’t offer the face-to-face befriending at the moment, but that just means people’s needs, isolation, and loneliness is greater.

“We’ve had some really lovely feedback from the scheme, responding to this crisis has been tough but we’re still here and we’re still working.

“It’s quite simple, we pair up our volunteers with an older person and they give them a call at least once a week to check in, listen to any concerns or worries they’ve got, have a chat and even a bit of a giggle.”

Age UK Bolton supports anyone over the age of 50, and works with people of all ages – including people over 100 years old.

It would usually mainly work with people towards the top of that age bracket, but shielding measures have left people who are usually quite active feeling isolated.

The group is always looking for more volunteers, and will pay for the required DBS check and any PPE.

Mrs Hilton added: “We’re very lucky, in normal times we have 360 volunteers helping us every year which is fantastic, but we always need more help.

“Many of them have changed what they do for us during the pandemic – we’ve also had new volunteers which is fantastic.

“The generosity and the good hearts of Bolton never ceases to amaze me.”

Contact Age UK on 01204 382411 to get involved.