SWINDON Circles is on the lookout for people who have a bit of spare time on their hands to help older people in the town who appreciate a bit of company.

The group, run by the Community Health and Wellbeing Team at Swindon Borough Council, is seeking new volunteers who can support elderly residents who love a bit of companionship to brighten up their day.

Currently, nearly 90 volunteers support over 100 elderly people right across the town in a variety of ways whether it is popping round for a cuppa and a chat or going out on shopping trips.

Since the project began, lots of strong and lasting friendships have been forged between the volunteers and their Swindon Circles hosts including one between Carole Sawyer and 97-year-old Gladys Whiting who have been meeting for almost a year.

"I joined Swindon Circles last July," Carole said. "I had been looking after my grandchildren but they were now all at school and I wanted to do something useful with my time. Joining Swindon Circles was one of the best things I could have done, I have met a lovely lady, we get along very well, we have lots of laughs, cups of tea and sometimes go out and about shopping. I feel as though I have known Gladys all my life and we have become firm friends.

"I am thrilled that after a hesitant start that I decided to volunteer and start visiting as it has been as beneficial for me as it has for Gladys. If anyone is looking to fill an hour or two a week I would thoroughly recommend joining Swindon Circles. It has been very rewarding."

Gladys, who will be 98 this month and lives independently, thinks Swindon Circles is a wonderful scheme and hopes others get involved so that pensioners, who may be at risk of social isolation, still see a familiar face every so often.

"Meeting Carole has made a huge difference to me and our friendship is a lasting one," Gladys said.

Swindon Circles aims to help senior citizens keep active both mentally and physically and signpost them to services that help them with daily life.

Volunteers can spare an hour or more of their time once a week and the role is flexible, to fit around the volunteers lifestyle and designed to fit around each volunteer individually.

To encourage more people to find out about the scheme, Swindon Circles will be hosting a series of information sessions next week so that people can pop along and see exactly what is involved.

Jenny Midwinter, Swindon Circles link worker, said: "Swindon Circles can make a huge impact on the lives of our older residents, offering them company, advice and companionship. We ensure we match our friendly volunteers with compatible older people who appreciate some company, and whether you can manage just one visit a week or several, we can use your time and no help is too little.

"For anyone wanting to find out more about how they can help is welcome to come along to one of our drop-in sessions where our friendly staff will be on hand to talk to anyone interested in finding our more about volunteering.

"What the sessions will do is make clear that this role is flexible and can fit around the volunteers."

Anyone signing up for Swindon Circles receives training and support from the council's Health and Wellbeing team.

The sessions are being held at the following times:

• Wednesday, May 17 – 12pm to 2pm at the Central Library

• Friday, May 19 – 3pm to 6pm at West Swindon Library

• Saturday, May 20 – 10am to 1pm at Wroughton Library

• Monday, May 22 – 3pm to 6pm at North Library

• Tuesday, May 23 – 10am to 12pm at Parks Library

• Thursday, May 25 – 10am to 12pm at Highworth Library

For more information, call 01793 465513 or email livewell@swindon.gov.uk.