A BEFRIENDING service for Southampton's elderly population has seen a 90 per cent increase in enquiries thanks to a Daily Echo backed campaign.

As previously reported there are nearly 170 people on Communicare Southampton's 'lonely waiting list' in desperate need of company and help with basic chores around the house.

Now thanks to the Echo backed campaign to get more volunteers signed up, the charity received an "unprecedented" response, with more than 20 enquiries in just two days of offers to help out the city's elderly population.

And fundraising coordinator Melodie Walter said although most volunteers are retired, thanks to social media younger residents are also signing up to make friends with the older generation.

She said: "It's fantastic. People have said to me that they have had relatives who needed a befriender and have decided that they would like to get involved because of that experience.

"We've had people enquire from all over Southampton but Totton and Eastleigh as well. Although Eastleigh is out of our remit volunteers from there can still sign up to visit people in Southampton."

Volunteers are not only properly vetted but also matched with an elderly person with similar tastes and personality, with the aim of developing meaningful friendships. Some even go on to enjoy trips and outings together when they find out they share interests. Melodie added: "They have got to get on with each other but it is all about the client and their needs. We do want it to be a good befriending relationship."

Although people as young as 14 have responded to the call-out for volunteers, there are age restrictions. Volunteers with younger children can sometimes take their children along to see the person they befriend - as long as proper checks have been done.

As previously reported the Communicare are inviting people to sign their book of remembrance in memory of loved ones or in aid of special causes for a donation of just £5.

If you would like to become a befriender or add a name to the book which goes on tour around the city this summer, contact the Communicare team on 023 8021 6016 or enquiry@communicareinsouthampton.org.uk