£230k charity boost set to give families a friend in times of need

Helen Ankrett, director of Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice, in Headingley. Picture by Simon Hulme.
Helen Ankrett, director of Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice, in Headingley. Picture by Simon Hulme.
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A befriending service to help people with terminal illnesses and their families will be rolled out to Leeds residents thanks to a £230,000 charity boost.

Sue Ryder, the national hospice and neurological care charity that runs Wheatfields Hospice, in Headingley, has been given the six-figure boost to help replicate the end of life befriending service it has launched in West Berkshire.

Sites in Leeds and West Yorkshire are among those to benefit from the funds, which will allow volunteers to provide companionship and emotional support as well as practical help for people to reconnect with their own communities.

The financial support for Sue Ryder came as six other organisations were given a share of an £800,000 Cabinet Office fund aimed at helping them to tackle loneliness and isolation, which people at the end of their lives can often experience.

Chief executive of Sue Ryder, Heidi Travis, said: “We’re delighted with today’s announcement and will be using this funding to deliver a national befriending service for individuals who are at the end of life.

“Loneliness, isolation and fear are common feelings associated with end of life and our befriending service helps individuals in this situation to reconnect, builds up their confidence and self esteem and also offers emotional and practical support. We may not be able to change the outcome but we can improve the experience.”

The impact of the social action projects such as the befriending service will be evaluated by the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University and the Institute for Volunteering Research. The evaluation will add to the evidence base for the impact of social action in end of life support.

Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, said: “These projects are great examples of how we can use volunteers within communities to make sure that nobody feels alone or unsupported.”