How this Derbyshire woman is making sure older people are ‘no longer lonely’

A Derbyshire grandmother says she is ‘no longer lonely’ thanks to a telephone befriending service.

Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 7:00 am

Valerie Payne, 76, of Long Eaton, receives weekly phone calls from Wendy Walmsley, a volunteer with Age UK Derby and Derbyshire’s Careline service.

The Derbyshire Times’ Buddy Up! campaign is encouraging more people to get involved with services like Careline to help combat loneliness among older people in our communities.

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Wendy Walmsley, an Age UK Derby and Derbyshire Careline volunteer.

Valerie said: “Wendy’s phone calls mean so much to me.

“She calls me at 10.30am every Monday and I always look forward to when the phone rings.

“It’s always lovely speaking to Wendy and I’d like to say a big thank you to her and everyone who supports me, especially right now during the pandemic when things are so difficult.

“I feel very lucky because I’m no longer lonely,” added former teacher Valerie, whose doctor referred her to Careline – which helps isolated older people living in the Erewash area.

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

Wendy, of Littleover in Derby, said she became a Careline volunteer last summer after her friend Cathy Lomax, who is co-ordinator of the vital service, told her about it.

The 64-year-old former higher level teaching assistant applied for the role and underwent a two-hour training session via Zoom.

She now carries out eight friendly chats over the phone every Monday.

Wendy said: “We talk about all sorts – from the weather to their hobbies to their memories of the past.

Wendy has eight friendly chats every Monday.

“It brings me a lot of joy speaking to everyone I call – I’ve built up a real rapport with them.

“If you’ve got some time and want to make a positive difference to someone’s life and help tackle loneliness, I would urge you to become a telephone befriender.

“It’s incredibly rewarding.”

Katy Pugh, chief executive of Age UK Derby and Derbyshire, thanked everyone involved with Careline and added: “Demand on the service has, as you can imagine, grown significantly and we need sufficient volunteers in order to manage current demand or accept more referrals.”

- For more information about Age UK Derby and Derbyshire – including how you can volunteer with the charity – visit

- 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.