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Well done to our Thanet Community Support Partnership team in this week’s Thanet Extra have highlighting their Your Time social club, befriending and referral services – as well as mentioning how volunteering can be a way to tackle loneliness.

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Following the announcement that Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed a minister for loneliness, we take a look at what one Thanet charity is doing to tackle the issue.

Many Thanet residents are no strangers to the spectre of loneliness.

Last year, a joint report by Co-op and the British Red Cross highlighted parts of the district as being among the top 39 loneliest places to live in Britain.

While loneliness may be prevalent on the isle, there is both help available and opportunity to play a part in helping others who find themselves on their own.

Thanet Volunteer Bureau (TVB) is one charity which takes this twin approach.

TVB project co-ordinator Chris Scutt said: “We run a series of weekly social gatherings across Thanet called Your Time, designed to bring people together.

“They take place on Wednesday afternoons at the Centenary Hall in Ramsgate and Friday afternoons at the Hussar in Garlinge.

“But we are delighted to say we are expanding and setting up a new Your Times in Newington and Birchington.”

As well as social meetings, TVB also runs a befriending scheme called the Good Neighbouring Service which matches its clients with volunteers who can offer good company over a cup of tea, help with shopping, dog walking, light housework or simply a friendly phone call.

Mr Scutt added: “Demand outstrips supply with the service, so we always welcome kind, sociable and talented volunteers to boost our clients’ quality of life.

“The Good Neighbouring Service is such a simple concept but it makes a huge difference to so many older people’s lives in Thanet.”

TVB belongs to a group of community-based organisations called Thanet Community Support Partnership who have come together to improve the health and wellbeing of older people by offering a range of services as diverse as wheelchair loans, befriending, handymen and more.

Mr Scutt said: “We also run a referrals service so that even if we can’t help directly we can link older people to service provided by one of our partner organisations which all helps to combat loneliness and promote inclusion.”

Mr Scutt also points out that loneliness is a difficulty faced increasingly by other age groups and demographics too.

He said: “The Jo Cox Commission report shows that loneliness does not discriminate on grounds of age, but the TVB can help in this respect too by matching people to volunteering opportunities which are tailored made to their circumstances.

“Volunteering within your local community has been proven to boost skills and self-esteem and above all is a great way of meeting new people.

“There’s a real wealth of opportunities locally – from outdoor work to befriending; charity shops to giving advice and information; or even being a trustee of a charity.”

Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch as minister for loneliness, following the release of the cross-party party by the Jo Cox Commission into loneliness, to take the lead on tackling loneliness across the UK.

Miss Crouch, 42, who is already the Government’s Minister for Sport and Civil Society, will be continuing the work started by murdered MP Jo Cox.

The Prime Minister says she is backing a campaign set up in memory of Mrs Cox to tackle loneliness.

To find out more about services offered by the Thanet Volunteer Bureau, call Chris on 01843 609336 or email chris.scutt@thanetvolunteerbureau.co.uk