New charity set to combat loneliness across Sussex

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A new charity will tackle loneliness across the Sussex area.

Befriended, based at Hurstpierpoint, launching on October 1, will engage with the elderly who live alone.

The Christian charity was the brainchild of volunteer Gail Millar, 51, of Hurstpierpoint, as she saw a need for the lonely through her previous work with blind an partially sighted people.

She says: “I became aware of loneliness among the elderly people.

“I thought we need to bring that to peoples’ attention and do something about it.”

The charity is formed by volunteers who are DBS checked and visit the homes of elders who may not see someone for days.

Mrs Millar added: “This charity is all about motivating people to spare an hour to go and befriend people.

“Loneliness can cause all sorts of complications so to spend some time with someone by befriending can help with their health.”

The charity has more than 20 volunteers prepared for the launch next month.

It will kick off with a tea party which the Bishop will officially open.

They expect around 200 people to attend.

Gail Millar has support from operations director Helen Watkins, 59, and is excited to see the vision develop.

Mrs Millar added: “Helen and I started discussing this idea in November of last year.

“The NHS has contacted us to support with their proactive care scheme.

“I am immensely humble with the support and our big vision is through the local church we can combat loneliness and isolations with the elderly.”

One in three older people are combatting loneliness with almost half of those aged 75 and over living alone.

The Bishop of Lewes has praised the new charity.

Reverend Richard Jackson says: “Loneliness is one of the most difficult issues facing people today, especially for older people who may not see another person for days on end.”

“I was delighted to be a Patron of this new Charity which is seeking to provide support.”

To find out more information about this charity click here.