This week (June 12-18, 2023) is Loneliness Awareness Week. The annual campaign, run by the Marmalade Trust, aims to shine a light on the issue of loneliness and how we can all do our bit to tackle it.

In St Albans and the surrounding areas, Rennie Grove Hospice Care is aiming to tackle loneliness amongst people who are impacted by life-limiting illnesses, through its Supporting Hands scheme.

Supporting Hands matches volunteers with local people who are living with a life-limiting illness to offer them support and companionship to help reduce social isolation. This invaluable role offers support to patients, respite to loved ones who care for them and frees up valuable nursing time, as well as tackling loneliness.

Anneliese Frank from St Albans has been volunteering with Supporting Hands since January 2021.

She says: "I support an elderly lady in her 90s who lives alone.

"The support started during the pandemic when lockdowns had left her very isolated and I have continued supporting her ever since.

"She doesn’t have any family nearby so it was really important, especially during and just after the pandemic, for her to have regular contact with somebody, to tackle isolation and loneliness.

"The lady I support does now have a great network of people who look out for her but it’s still nice for us to have the Supporting Hands relationship so she has something in her week that’s about her social, as well as practical, needs.

"Having a Supporting Hands volunteer also helps this lady to get out of the house. So, in addition to practical help and company, she gets to see the outside world and maintain independence by completing tasks herself, rather than relying on others.

"For example, we regularly go shopping to a nearby small supermarket so she can stock up with provisions for the week ahead.

"We might also go to a garden centre to buy plants together or I can take her to the pet shop to shop for things she needs for her dog. This all helps her to stay connected to the outside world which is really important in maintaining confidence and reducing loneliness.

"I gain a huge amount from volunteering – it's definitely not a one-way relationship. I really enjoy the company of the lady I support and have learned a great deal from her.

"We have a shared passion for gardening and I love working with her in her beautiful garden. I also love walking her dog – it's a real treat for me as I love walking and don't have a dog of my own."

If you’d like to find out more about volunteering with Supporting Hands, email or call 01727 731020.