Christmas volunteers needed to help stave off loneliness and isolation in Rochford

Volunteers looking to help the community this Christmas are being urged to drop into Rochford’s new Open Doors community space in the town centre and sign up.

Christmas can be a tough time of year for many people dealing with loneliness and isolation and some cope by volunteering to keep busy and lift their own spirits as well as others’.

“We get more people this time of year than any other time offering to do one-off volunteering,” said Victoria Marzouki, Partnership and Development Manager at Rayleigh, Rochford and District Association for Voluntary Services (RRAVS) one of the partners at Open Doors.

“We are again supporting local churches that are staging Christmas meals by offering volunteer help and we would like to hear from people who can volunteer to help with the lunches.”

Open Doors is also supporting the social movement United in Kind, which aims to connect communities through kindness this Christmas – recognising that those who feel connected to their communities are less likely to feel lonely.

Last year, over half a million elderly people said they expected to feel lonely at Christmas. But in a recent Essex survey, by Essex County Council, 82% of people agreed that communities have a role to play in supporting people in their neighbourhood who are isolated or lonely.

RRAVS is one of the organisations at the new Open Doors community project run by Rochford District Council (RDC) in Market Square, located at the former King’s Head pub.

RDC made a successful application for the project and was selected as one of just five locations from across the country to host a pilot of the scheme, which will run up until April 2020.

Rochford District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Enterprise, Cllr Simon Wootton, said: “With a total of 45 applications, Rochford has received the highest amount of interest from local groups and individuals to make use of the space compared to the other Open Doors sites, and this is a great testament to the community spirit we have locally.”

Mick Ferris

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