A pioneering befriending service in Crowland is helping to ease pressure on hospitals.
Crowland Cares is offering the kind of support to vulnerable and elderly people that reduces dependency on more costly health and social care services.
David Ringham, chairman of the group of volunteers, said the service had a vital role to play in the community.
He said: “There have always been befrienders but the Government has put a new focus on how important a role it plays on reducing pressure on the NHS.
“Giving the elderly and vulnerable something to look forward to raises their spirits and helps keep them healthier.
“We also help by providing transport to the surgery or hospital and stay with them so they don’t have to feel alone. In some cases we also help with shopping trips or fetch them to our monthly lunch club.
“Some of the people we have met have ended up getting involved themselves and making new friends.
“It’s very easy to become lonely when families move away or lost for something to do when people retire. Since I retired I haven’t had a minute because of all the services we offer, but it really keeps you going.”
Crowland Cares was formed 16 years ago but has been based at the library in Hall Street for the past three.
Mr Ringham said: “We came here at a time when libraries were closing so the arrangement has been mutually beneficial.
“It means the library can open more often and we help each other out.”
Manned each morning from Monday to Friday, Crowland Cares also offers local information on health and social care, a transport service, help with filling in forms and writing CVs and a range of social activities.
Marjorie Fovargue (75) popped along to book transport to Peterborough Hospital.
Mrs Fovargue, of Albion Street, said: “Both my husband and I use the service. Without it we would have to take two buses to get to hospital. We also appreciate the driver staying with us – it makes the journey so much easier.”
More volunteers are always welcome. Anyone interested can call 01733 211797.