AGE UK North Yorkshire & Darlington and Age UK North Craven have expanded the award-winning Good Friends project.

Now available in the Craven, Hambleton and Richmondshire districts of the county, this project aims to match together people within the community to tackle the growing problems of loneliness and isolation, particularly amongst older and vulnerable people.

Based on a project that has successfully run in Darlington, the Good Friends programme has to date matched over 800 local residents and has provided support for over 500 older and vulnerable people in need within Darlington communities, receiving national recognition in 2015 when it received the LGC award for best Health and Social Care project.

The project works by matching together people self-referred or referred into the service with a volunteer “Good Friend” based on their needs and interests who can help with a range of issues. Complementing services provided by local authorities, the NHS and other voluntary sector organisations, Good Friends aims to promote community cohesion by encouraging people in the community to keep an eye on their most vulnerable neighbours.

Sue Bradley, Chief Officer of Age UK North Craven, said: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington.

"The arrival of Good Friends is a great opportunity to involve more people in our communities to address loneliness and social isolation."

The project is funded in North Yorkshire by North Yorkshire County Council, with financial contributions from the North Yorkshire’s Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Public Health, Prevention and Supported Housing, said: “Helping people to strengthen their social networks to tackle loneliness and isolation is a priority for the County Council.

"Our investment in the award-winning Good Friends initiative will play an important part in the work that we, and our partners, are doing to help people stay well and live independently in their own communities for as long as possible”.