Could you help someone who is feeling lonely by helping them to try new things and make new friends?

A new scheme is being piloted in Stamford to train volunteers to mentor those who are struggling with isolation by accompanying them to social activities so they don’t have to do it alone.

Loneliness is a serious problem, with more than nine million people in the UK claiming they often or always feel lonely.

The effects of isolation on health are comparable to well-known risk factors such as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being obese, and can also lead to increased risk of physical health problems such as heart disease and stroke.

Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service is hoping to help tackle the problem in Stamford by pairing volunteers to those who would benefit from non-medical support in a community setting.

Community volunteers’ roles would include helping them to gain confidence and meet new people by accompanying them to social activities which interest them, such as hobby groups, fitness classes or support sessions.

Lisa Gibson, LCVS social prescribing lead for south Lincolnshire, said: “It can be intimidating for someone to go along to a new group or activity on their own and start conversations with strangers.

“Our community volunteers would be by their side, helping them with that initial awkwardness and mentoring them to overcome the social isolation they are experiencing.

“Social prescribing is about connecting people referred to us by healthcare professionals with the community in ways that will benefit their health and wellbeing.

“We provide a personalised service for those referred to us, asking them what they want to achieve and helping them to set goals and then looking at local resources to help them achieve those goals.

“Loneliness is an absolute killer and you don’t have to live on your own to be lonely. Loneliness can also affect people who are surrounded by friends and family.

“We want to help those people by providing them with a mentor.”

Anyone who is able to offer a few hours, during the day or in the evenings, can become a community volunteer. Training sessions for new recruits are due to be held in January and February.

For more information contact Lisa Gibson on 01205 510888 (option 3) or email lisagibson@lincolnshirecvs.org.uk.