Connecting Ripon column

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Last weekend’s clock change heralds the start of longer, darker evenings. For some of us, the longer nights bring the anticipation of Halloween and Bonfire Night, for others it may bring a sense withdrawal from society as we, quite literally, hibernate for the season.

On a practical level, the shorter days and colder weather can make it difficult for some local people to get out and about easily. This can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially among older people or those living rurally.

The organisations involved with the ‘Connecting Ripon’ network are working hard, especially at this time of year, to ensure local people maintain their ties with the local community. Jointly, they provide services and events for local people, supporting them, whatever their need.

For those wishing to meet up with others, lunch clubs are an obvious place to start. The Salvation Army runs its popular ‘Lunch with Sally’ club at its Ripon based Reach Out Centre and the Ripon and Rural Wellbeing Service operates regular lunch clubs in Masham, Grantley and Kirkby Malzeard.

We are fortunate to have a wealth of things going on in the Ripon area; however, sometimes getting there can be a problem. For those of us struggling with transport, either because of poor mobility or location, the Ripon and Rural Voluntary Car Driving service provides a real lifeline. A dedicated team of volunteer drivers offers door-to- door transport to assist passengers to get to appointments, day centres and social activities both locally and further afield.

Of course, social contact doesn’t just come from getting out and about. For those of us requiring company and support in the home, the Ripon and Rural Wellbeing Service also offers home visits to over 65s in the area. This might be in the form of emotional or practical support, or simply a regular drop in for a chat and to lend a listening ear.

The role of volunteers in providing this all important social contact to local people cannot be underestimated. There is often a real rapport that develops between the volunteer and the person being supported, which can be so beneficial to both parties.

Julie Proudler, Service Co-ordinator for HELP’s Ripon and Rural Services, said: “In a society where everyone is so busy, volunteers give that highly valued gift: time. Having been given an extra hour with the clock change at the weekend, perhaps we could all consider how we might give that extra hour, or indeed more than an hour, back to local people. Just one hour of time volunteered with our own service, for example, could make a huge difference to someone living locally: It could be spent visiting one of our elderly clients in their home or providing transport to help someone attend a medical appointment. There are many different opportunities, so please do get in touch if you could offer an hour or so, all at times to fit in with you.”

Julie can be contacted on 01765 645902 or You can find out more about HELP’s Ripon and Rural Services and ways you can help at

The HARCVS Volunteering Directory lists hundreds of diverse and exciting opportunities to help people find an ideal local volunteering role. Why not take a look and get inspired? Visit

The Connecting Ripon Network is open to anyone wanting to work together to make a positive contribution to community life. New members are always welcome. Find out more at or call HARCVS on 01423 504074.