YOUNG befrienders supporting older residents across Glasgow and the west of Scotland are working flat out to ensure connections continue despite the pandemic.
Many organisations have had to adapt their services to ensure isolated and vulnerable people do not miss out as coronavirus restrictions continue to make face-to-face contact impossible.
Bella Kerr of Generations Working Together (GWT), one of the many organisations supporting Glasgow’s Campaign to End Loneliness this winter, explains: “Our biggest 
challenge has been to support our members, to keep connections between younger and older generations going. 
“As the number of people experiencing social isolation and loneliness increases, there is a greater need for individuals and groups to create connections in the 
“These connections have been constrained in many ways but lots of creativity has emerged through the ingenuity of volunteer and community groups – everything from pen friends, music and online singing to TikTok videos, cooking classes and walking projects.”
A team of sixth-year pupils at Calderglen High in East Kilbride recently won an award for their befriending project, run by Avril Anderson in association with Claremont Parish Church.
Bella explains: “The school won a merit award as part of its outstanding contribution to intergenerational work through Vibrant 
“The scheme sees a senior pupil paired with older members of the community to provide a helping hand or just to spend time in their company.”
Pupil Ellie Stewart said: “The befriending project allowed me to 
create a special bond with my paired elder, a relationship I will cherish and remember forever. 
“The project has continued through lockdown but it has been adapted to be by telephone as face-to-face visits are not possible.”
Headteacher Liz White said: “Our S6 pupils continue to invest their time and skills to make a difference to senior members of their local community. The tangible bond formed between young people and those they visit is quite exceptional.”
Bella Kerr at GWT says the team has pulled out all the stops to adapt its services.
She says: “We quickly changed our face-to-face network meetings to online sessions and we were able to support members with guidance, ideas and materials.
“We were also able to signpost members to organisations which provided free digital training and other vital services. We also developed free online short training sessions for volunteers.  
“The pandemic has had a massive impact on volunteering. We are always keen to work with people interested in volunteering, whether in the short term, helping us with local network meetings, for example, or long term on projects in schools and care homes.”
Volunteer Glasgow has been working closely with GCVS (Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector) and the Campaign to End Loneliness in a bid to raise awareness of mental health support available this winter.
The three organisations have published a Winter Survival Guide, outlining help that is available and highlighting the incredible benefits of volunteering. Find out more online at