Make friends and become a volunteer

DESIREE pops round to see Edith every week for a chat and a trip to the shops, as part of a free service for older residents.

Volunteer Desiree McLeish has been visiting 77-year-old grandmother-of-five Edith Hyatt for just over a year, after Edith was referred to Hackney Council s Community Resource Team Befriending Scheme.

They both live in central Hackney and get on very well together, and Desiree drops by for an hour and a half each week, helping out with a range of things, including by accompanying Edith on trips to the doctors, or to the shops in Mare Street.

Edith said: “We have a good time together, we’re like a family,” adding that it was easy and straight forward to sign up for the scheme.

Desiree, 56, said she found out about the Befriending Scheme through an advertisement in Hackney Today, and also volunteers at the Sam and Annie Cohen Day Centre, in Upper Clapton. She said: “It’s helping elderly people, and that’s rewarding and I would absolutely recommend it."

Residents aged 50 and over, who may be housebound or feel isolated, can benefit from a range of services offered by the Council’s Befriending Scheme, including home visits and telephone calls from trained volunteers.

All volunteers are security checked via the Criminal Record Bureau (CRB), while in addition training, support and supervision are also provided.

Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “This is a good example of how the people of Hackney care for and support one another. Older people have helped make Hackney the great place it is today, and the Council’s Befriending Scheme helps to recognise this.”

To find out more about becoming a volunteer, and more about the Befriending Scheme, please contact Hackney Council’s Community Resource Team on 020 7249 1868, visit or email