Chatty project makes difference

HAVING A CHAT: MP Roberta Blackman-Woods (centre) with Malcolm Fallow and guests and officials, from left; Kathleen Lynn, Kath Forbes, Stephanie Malkin, Margaret Golightly, Yvonne Matthews and Joyce Dunn at the launch of ChitChat befriending service.

HAVING A CHAT: MP Roberta Blackman-Woods (centre) with Malcolm Fallow and guests and officials, from left; Kathleen Lynn, Kath Forbes, Stephanie Malkin, Margaret Golightly, Yvonne Matthews and Joyce Dunn at the launch of ChitChat befriending service.

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CHATTERBOXES are helping to ring the changes in the lives of the loneliest.

The Chit Chat project has recruited a gang of volunteers who will help more than 100 vulnerable and isolated people living across East Durham.

It was officially launched by Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods when she visited the dedicated call centre based at Community House, in Yoden Road, Peterlee.

Each of the volunteers has a small caseload of people who have been referred by family or health professionals.

As well as checking on the welfare of people who have difficulty getting out and about they will also be providing a friendly voice and listening ear from a social point of view.

The project, run by East Durham Trust, has been made possible thanks to funding from the local Health Network and County Durham and Darlington NHS.

The trust’s chief executive Malcolm Fallow said: “Being isolated and alone for long periods of time can have a detrimental effect on people’s mental health. This project will hopefully go some way to addressing that.”

“We have been delighted at the number of people who have come forward for this project. It really does confirm that community spirit is not dead.”

Dr Blackman-Woods said it was a pleasure to be able to speak at the launch of the Chit Chat project.

She said: “I am very grateful to the East Durham Trust for inviting me here today to speak and I wish to start by paying tribute to the dedicated and valuable work done by the trust, as well as to the local Health Network and County Durham and Darlington NHS for making this new project possible.

“The “Chit Chat” project gives testament to the innovative capacity of the voluntary and charitable sector here in Durham.”

East Durham Trust is a charity which aims to promote regeneration and tackle the effects of social and economic decline.

Anyone who would like to volunteer for the project or would like to refer a family member can contact Abby Thompson at the trust on 569 3511.