Silver Talk

Member Article

Volunteers encouraged to join befriending service

An innovative telephone befriending service, which aims to improve the quality of life for older residents living in County Durham is looking for new volunteers.

The Silver Talk scheme, run by Derwentside Homes, matches volunteers with elderly residents across the County, who may live alone and would like to become more socially active in their local community.

Volunteers are given the opportunity to talk to the same clients or a range of new clients as often as they like.

John Atkinson, Silver Talk Manager at Derwentside Homes, said: “The befriending service is making a huge difference to the lives of local older residents and we want to continue this by inviting more volunteers to step forward.

“Volunteers are integral to make the service a success and to help elderly people in the area. We are always looking for more to continue our success.”

On average, the volunteers are specially trained talk to nearly 200 older people each week.

Rob, a Silver Talk volunteer said: “I retired from work nearly two years ago and this voluntary work has been an exciting new challenge for me and allows me to make new friends through regular chats.”

Regular phone calls take place between the volunteer and the client, providing interesting conversations and allowing volunteers to signpost residents to other organisations for additional support should they need it.

The Silver Talk scheme was set up in October 2012 following a £99,475 grant from The Big Lottery Fund’s Silver Dreams Fund.

Since launching, Silver Talk has grown steadily with over 40 volunteers working from offices in Stanley and Durham supporting around 150 service users.

Mary, a Silver Talk volunteer said: “Volunteering for Silver Talk has given me a huge confidence boost as I have had the opportunity to make a real difference to peoples’ lives.”

Silver Talk is about making new friends and helping residents to stay connected with their local community.

A resident who uses the scheme, said: “Silver Talk has had a huge impact on my life because having retired earlier, most of my friends are at work during the day and this has given me something exciting to do with my time.”

The project is led by Derwentside Homes and supported by Durham County Council, Durham City Homes, Durham City District Council for Voluntary Service, the Mid Durham Area Action Partnership and NHS County Durham and Darlington.

The next Silver Talk training programme will be held on July 3rd at 10am at 25-33 Front Street, Stanley. The friendly and enjoyable programme provides two hour training sessions over four weeks that provides volunteers with everything they need to brighten up the lives of older people across County Durham.

If you would like to join the Silver Talk service, please contact Natalie or John on 01207 235 760 or email

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ailsa Macmillan .

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