A hospice has trained 47 people to combat loneliness in the past year.

Hastingwood-based charity St Clare Hospice has been running its Compassionate Neighbours programme for ten months.

The scheme has volunteers support people in West Essex and East Herts who are living with a life-limiting illness or who are in the last chapter of their life, and are experiencing loneliness or social isolation.

The project aims to be mutually beneficial for both the Compassionate Neighbour and the community member, with pairs ‘matched’ based on their shared likes, interests and experiences.

David Austin, a Compassionate Neighbour from North Weald, said: “I first read about the Compassionate Neighbours project in my local village magazine, and knowing that loneliness is a very big problem in our country, I thought it sounded like a project I wanted to get involved with.

"I came along and took part in the Compassionate Neighbours training, and then was paired with a guy who lives locally to me.

"We are both from a similar background and we have bonded over the things we both enjoy. Being a Compassionate Neighbour is definitely rewarding for me.

"I enjoy doing something for someone else on a personal level, and I like knowing that I am helping someone.”

St Clare hopes to recruit at least ten more Compassionate Neighbours in the first two months of 2019.

New volunteers will be provided with a full training programme, free of charge.

Stacey Towler, St Clare’s Compassionate Neighbours manager, said: “The important thing is that the relationship between a Compassionate Neighbour and a community member is equal.

"It is not about a person having care or a service ‘done to them’ – but about two people connecting and sharing time together in a way which has a positive impact on both of their well-beings.”

You must be over 18 to volunteer for this service.

St Clare Hospice will carry out a relevant DBS che.

To find out more call Stacey Towler on 01279 773729 or visit stclarehospice.org.uk/care/compassionate-neighbours/