Rosie b:Friends Community Group

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13 Apr 2018
b:friend, a Doncaster charity supported by the South Yorkshire Community Foundation, invited Dame Rosie Winterton MP to visit their social club at the Sandallwood Communal Hall in Wheatley, and meet with
their members and volunteers.

Founded by Doncaster-born, Mike Niles, and launched in January 2017, b:Friend Doncaster pairs volunteer befrienders with socially isolated older neighbours to pop-in, once a week, for a cuppa and a chat with
the aim of reducing loneliness in the community. 

Dame Rosie Winterton said “The South Yorkshire Community Fund plays a vital role in helping community groups, like b:friend Doncaster to do important work locally, supporting people and improving their personal wellbeing.  I was pleased to join in the activities today with members and volunteers at the b:Friend social club here in Wheatley.  The volunteers make a real difference, providing companionship to people that
otherwise may not speak to another person all week or longer.”

Along with 1:1 befriending, they also host weekly two hour Social Clubs in various areas around Doncaster to bring older neighbours together.  These sessions offer peer support while taking part in mentally stimulating activities including crafts, quizzes, games, film clubs and many more.

Mike Niles said “It was fantastic to welcome Dame Rosie along to our new Social Club in Wheatley Hills.  Our group meets every Friday morning and we had an incredibly varied session for ‘Friday 13th’;
masquerade masks, dancing and a lively discussion about the meaning behind some superstitions. 

The issue of loneliness for older people in our town is huge with over 22,000 over 65s at risk of social isolation in the Borough. Through our weekly groups there is a fantastic opportunity to meet others in a similar position and form new friendships to support one another.  Dame Rosie’s enthusiasm for our project encourages us to continue reaching more isolated people and we hope to launch more groups like this through Doncaster in the coming months.”

Anyone interested in volunteering to become a befriender can apply via www.letsbfriend.org.uk.  All befrienders receive an Enhanced DBS background check and b:Friend look to pair them with an older neighbour who lives nearby.



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Rosie Winterton MP for Doncaster Central
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