A BEFRIENDING charitable service for the over 55s living alone and in isolation has been launched in Sleaford.
Evergreen operates within a 10 mile radius of Sleaford and offers a one to one friendship from a carefully identified volunteer befriender.
Figures from the new charity show that currently 41 per cent of the population of Lincolnshire are over 50 and it will be nearly 50 per cent by 2033.
Dave Jeal, chairman of Sleaford Caring Trust which has been established specifically to deliver this new service operating as Evergreen Sleaford, said: "We have been recruiting volunteer befrienders over the past 12 months and have already recruited over 30 volunteers.
"All we ask by way of commitment from them is one hour per week to visit the elderly person with whom they have been paired. This vital service is becoming increasingly important to many elderly people in our area."
Established with the help of a similar organisation already operating in Stamford and Bourne and prompted by staff at North Kesteven District Council the new charity is already up and running and the first friendship connections have been established.
Chief executive of the Evergreen Care Trust based in Stamford, Louise Marsh said: "We wanted to roll out our model for befriending elderly and vulnerable people and Sleaford is the first of what we hope will be many more such ventures across the county and the country as a whole.
"We have really enjoyed working with the team in Sleaford to establish the befriending service for elderly people in and around Sleaford and are really excited about the prospects it offers.
"Lincolnshire needs more services to avoid those living alone becoming increasingly isolated."
Ian Fytche, Chief Executive of NKDC explained why he and his team were keen to see the service come to the Sleaford area.
He said: "We know that the number and proportion of elderly people in North Kesteven is increasing ahead of county and national trends, so it is increasingly important that we in our communities make suitable provision for older people to have simple friendships available to them.
"We are thankful for the work of Churches Together in Sleaford and district who helped to launch this new initiative."
Although established through the work of Churches Together the volunteering opportunities are available to all, from any faith and none.
Each volunteer goes through a formal recruitment process including CRB checks and a training day to ensure they are fully equipped for befriending.