Chesterfield charity appeals for more telephone befrienders as part of Derbyshire Times' Buddy Up! campaign

A Chesterfield-based charity is on the lookout for more telephone befrienders in a bid to tackle loneliness.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 12:41 pm

Derbyshire Voluntary Action’s (DVA) response hub includes 25 volunteers who make several phone calls each week to people who are craving some contact.

The Derbyshire Times’ Buddy Up! campaign is encouraging more people to get involved with services like DVA’s response hub to help combat loneliness in our communities.

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Some of Derbyshire Voluntary Action's telephone befrienders on a recent virtual meeting.

Jacqui Willis, DVA chief executive, said: “These continue to be challenging times and we would love more telephone befrienders to join our response hub to bring vital support to isolated and vulnerable residents.

“Our wonderful volunteers say being a telephone befriender is an incredibly rewarding experience and those who receive the calls describe them as a lifeline.

“It means so much to them to know that someone cares and is making regular calls.”

DVA is leading a project, called Feeling Connected, to encourage socially isolated people to seek support.

Our Buddy Up! campaign aims to help connect isolated older people with thoughtful individuals across the county.

Jacqui said: “Most people, young and old, feel lonely from time to time.

“This is normal – and even healthy.

“It can be a prompt for action – a reminder to make contact with other people and to create or reaffirm connections.

“Where it can become a problem is if people become isolated through circumstances beyond their control – and if feelings of loneliness become entrenched or persist for a long time.”

Emma Holt, left, works with the charity's community response hub. Debbie Fennell is the charity's social connectedness development worker and plays a key role in the Feeling Connected campaign.

The project has the backing of Chesterfield Borough Council.

Councillor Jill Mannion-Brunt, cabinet member for health and well-being, said: “Tackling social isolation and supporting our residents to overcome the impact of the pandemic is a priority.

“Many people have experienced social isolation throughout the pandemic – especially those who have limited access to technology – so we’re really pleased to be supporting this project and looking into new initiatives which will help promote social connectedness for our residents.”

Jacqui thanked all DVA volunteers and supporters, including local councils, Chesterfield Volunteer Centre and the Brightlife Charity.

For more information about volunteering with DVA and to find out how you can get support from the charity, email [email protected] or call 01246 555908.

- If your Derbyshire charity or organisation offers befriending services and you would like to be featured as part of our Buddy Up! campaign, please email [email protected]

Editor’s message

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription at or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.