New volunteering project aims to tackle loneliness

A NEW project has been launched to tackle loneliness and social isolation in the area by getting people to consider starting to volunteer.

Volunteering for Wellbeing is a joint initiative between Volunteer Centre Borders, Scottish Borders Council and NHS Borders to improve the health of people who don’t have as much chance to speak and meet with others as they would like.

The project will match up people who described themselves as lonely with a volunteering opportunity with regular support to evaluate whether the experience is having the desired positive effect.

VCB Executive Officer, Gordon Brown, said: “Lacking social connections has been described as being as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes today. We know that one of the best ways to address that is by volunteering; there are hundreds of different volunteering opportunities where someone can do something they enjoy, meet new people, make a difference in their local community– and improve their wellbeing at the same time.

“If you are, or know, someone who would benefit from volunteering then please email me at  Similarly, if you are an organisation which needs volunteers and would like to take part in this pilot project then get in touch.”

Allyson McCollam, Associate Director of Public Health for the Borders said “I would really encourage people to try volunteering if they want to spend more time with other people and have something worthwhile to do. 

“Feeling isolated and lonely can have a profound impact on our health.  It can make us more susceptible to illness and infection, disrupt sleep or make us feel low.  Loneliness can affect people of all ages and stages in life.

“It is great to see this new ‘Volunteering for Wellbeing’ initiative with Volunteer Centre Borders offer many opportunities to connect with other people.  Try it – it could make a real difference to your wellbeing.”

VOLUNTEER CENTRE BORDERS, Riverside House, Ladhope Vale, Galashiels, TD1 1BT, 01896754041