A retired man from South Shields is making a difference in the lives of the town’s elderly by volunteering to tackle loneliness.
Fred Lees, 77, from South Shields, decided to get involved in volunteering as away of occupying his time since he retired from full-time work.
Volunteers like Fred are needed as part of an Age UK campaign No One Should Have No One- backed by The Shields Gazette - urging people to help the charity, particularly by getting involved with its befriending service, which puts volunteers in contact with lonely older people.
Fred, who is also a service user, got involved in volunteering around a year ago for the tea dance at the town’s Sutton Hall, but decided he fancied a new project and became involved in Men in Sheds - a woodwork initiative.
Fred, who lives with his wife and has two children and three grandchildren, he said he wanted to help other people in the community.
He said: “I wanted to volunteer for Age UK as I felt that people needed somebody like myself to stop them getting lonely.
“I enjoy it and I enjoy being there working with other people. I am a cabinet maker by trade so when I heard about Men in Sheds I thought ‘I can do this.’
“People can make anything you want. All the tools are there and I like to have a chat with the people. We all get on well together and have all made friends. “
The Age UK campaign is backed by South Tyneside Council which also recognises the issue of social isolation affecting South Tyneside residents.
The council’s lead member for public health and wellbeing, Coun Moira Smith, said: “I am pleased to be able to support this worthy campaign and help to raise awareness of social isolation.
“Although the elderly are mostly associated with being social isolated, we mustn’t forget our younger adults who may be housebound due to a disability and single mothers who are looking after children.”
“Anyone can become socially isolated,” added Cllr Mary Butler, Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Support Services.
“Losing contact with people and being alone often leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation which can dramatically reduce people’s quality of life.
“Although winter is often thought of as a time when people stay indoors it is important to remember that people can be isolated any time of the year.
“The campaign is encouraging local people to spare a thought for their neighbours and try and make the time to visit people who may be alone.”