Have you got the time to be a good neighbour?

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A new ‘good neighbours’ service needs volunteers willing to show the spirit of Christmas.

The WRVS’s community transport and neighbours scheme provides a vital link to the outside world for the elderly.

Under the service, which already runs successfully in Stirling, volunteers visit older people, show a friendly face and offer help and advice.

They also take them to hospital or doctors appointments, as many have no other way of getting around.

The initiative is part of a major push by the WRVS to tackle the threat of social isolation.

Service manager Morag McRoberts said: “WRVS Falkirk is eager to try to recruit more volunteers. The weather is becoming colder and that makes it particularly important that older people in our community know how to prepare for bad weather and have someone to check on them. Many older people report feeling especially isolated at this time of year.

“About 230,000 older people in the UK will spend Christmas alone and some of these people may be living in our street.

“Our team of volunteers visit these older people so they see a friendly face over the Christmas period.

“We are able to offer this service to some parts of Falkirk but to be able to ensure that we can cover the whole of Falkirk we need to recruit more volunteers.”

The charity claims that being alone at this time of year can have long-lasting effects on older people.

Morag added: “Our researh shows that loneliness is so bad for your health that it is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, with increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and dementia.”

The WRVS says demand for transport is on the rise following changes to the Scottish Ambulance Service’s free patient transport service which has led to some older people losing their eligibility.

Morag added: “We have seen an increase in demand for our Community Transport service, but we need to increase the number of volunteers to deliver it. Our volunteers are extremely important to us and volunteering is fully flexible.

“If you just want to do one hour a fortnight, that’s absolutely fine.”

Anyone interested in volunteering as a Good Neighbour or to be part of the community transport scheme can contact the WRVS in Falkirk on (01324) 692024.