THE care given to her grandmother by Age UK Wiltshire volunteers inspired Samantha Burton to give up some of her time to help the charity tackle loneliness and isolation in Wiltshire.

Mrs Burton, 39, of Chippenham, signed up for Age UK’ Wiltshire’s Wellbeing scheme last November. “I really appreciated the care they gave my nan and I wanted to put something back, so it seemed the right things to do,” she said.

Age UK Wiltshire has around 40 volunteers like Mrs Burton but is trying to recruit more to deal with hundreds of older people living increasingly isolated lives across the county. The scheme is aimed at tackling loneliness and isolation among the elderly by matching volunteers to clients referred to the charity by families, GPs, social services and carers.

The project is designed to re-connect with elderly people with their community by overcoming loss of confidence, mobility issues or lack of knowledge. It encourages volunteers to help their clients enjoy things that interest them.

Mrs Burton, an operations manager with an engineering consultancy in Bristol, completed Age UK Wiltshire’s training programme and was eventually matched with Hazel, 60, in June. She visits her once a week and spends an hour with her, gently persuading her to overcome her isolation.

“She had some issues with leaving the house, so the plan is to get her out a bit more. We want to get her walking to the shop and we are working towards that,” said Mrs Burton. “We have got her out and halfway down the road and gone to the shop in the car. We are making progress.”

She is also a friend and a confidant and provides practical help. “I was able to help her set the internet and email up on her phone. She was really pleased about that. It is little things like that, that you or I would think is easy that make a difference,” said the mother of one, who has lived in Chippenham for ten years.

“I think she likes the fact she can talk to me because I’m independent. She has told me about some of the things she has gone through and that has been good for her. I also think she gets a bit of reassurance from me being there. I can give her a bit of advice or just talk things over.”

Former Westinghouse worker Hazel said the practical help I useful but having someone to talk to is just as important. “She is very good company,” she said. “She is bright and bubbly and I look forward to her visits. When you are at home on your own you can get a bit stagnant, but she brings a different outlook. She’s a very nice lady and she is someone I can talk to.”

Repaying what she sees as a debt to the charity is just part of the benefit Mrs Burton gets from her visits. “I get a lot of pleasure from chatting to her and knowing I am helping her,” she said. “I talk to her about me as well, so we both get something out of it. We get on really well.”

To volunteer ring 01380 727767, email, or go to