A NEW befriending network which aims to combat isolation is set to be launched by Derbyshire County Council.
The Derbyshire Trusted Befriending Network will be officially launched on Tuesday, January 29.
The scheme aims to provide people who feel vulnerable or isolated with easy access to befriending organisations in their area.
The Derbyshire Trusted Befriending Network will be made up of groups and organisations that all have to meet a certain quality standard so that people using their services can be confident that what they are being offered is safe and well run.
The scheme is being run on behalf of the county council by South Derbyshire CVS and in advance of the launch 18 befriending services have already been successfully accredited as members.
The launch event at County Hall, Matlock, will also see the launch of the council’s Friends and Good Neighbours Grant which is aimed at groups wanting to set up initiatives aimed at combating loneliness in their communities.
Groups which successfully apply will receive a grant of up to £3,000 to kickstart a community event or set up a good neighbour initiative with a befriending aim.
To support the Derbyshire Trusted Befriending Network the council appealed last November for people to volunteer as Befriending Champions.
The Befriending Champions act as the `eyes and ears’ of their local community, looking out for people who are at risk of becoming lonely or isolated and linking in with people who are receiving befriending support.
The role also involves helping people find groups, activities or services that they might find enjoyable and supporting and encouraging them to take the first steps to going along and taking part.
Befriending Champions will be people who already have a paid or voluntary role that brings them in to contact with members of the public.
Ten people have already been fully trained as Befriending Champions and they will receive their certificates at the Derbyshire Trusted Befriending Network launch.
More Befriending Champions are being sought to support the network and anyone coming forward will be offered full training and support by the network, in partnership with local volunteer centres and other voluntary organisations.
A number of organisations and groups providing befriending services have been invited to attend the launch of the network along with representatives from health, local GPs and housing associations.
The county council has initially put £85,000 towards setting up the Derbyshire Trusted Befriending Network as part of its drive to improve preventative services for people across the county.
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Care Councillor Charles Jones said: “We are very pleased to be launching the new Derbyshire Trusted Befriending Network as we believe it will prove to be a vital part of our drive to tackle loneliness and isolation in older and vulnerable people across the county.
“Coupled with the new network will be the new Friends and Good Neighbours Grant which could help groups and organisations set up activities or events aimed at befriending and combating loneliness.”
“The new network forms part of the county council’s drive to improve preventative services across Derbyshire, helping people to stay well, independent and living safely in their own homes for as long as possible.”
More information about the launch event is available by telephoning the Derbyshire Trusted Befriending Network co-ordinator Kerrie Fletcher on 01283 219761.