A new befriending service is set to be put in place across Ayrshire to help people with dementia - and the friends and family who care for them.

The Ayrshire Independent Living Network (AILN) has secured funding to provide an Ayrshire-wide dementia befriending service for the next three years.

And the group is now keen to recruit people from all over Ayrshire as 'dementia befrienders'.

Made possible by the National Lottery Community Fund, this service aims to provide a few hours of face-to-face support, either weekly or fortnightly, to individuals living with early-stage dementia. It will also provide respite for unpaid carers.

Sharon MacPherson, AILN's dementia befriending co-ordinator, came into post in July 2022, and brings a wealth of knowledge in volunteering.

She told the East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership how important this service can be for so many people.

New befriending service in Ayrshire (Image- East Ayrshire health and social care partnership)New befriending service in Ayrshire (Image- East Ayrshire health and social care partnership)

Sharon said: "We are all excited to be involved in this new project, providing support for people living with dementia.

"It is our hope the project will be able to engage people with dementia at the earliest possible stage and provide specialist support.

"This will reduce isolation and loneliness and improve the quality of life for this group, as well as the group of people providing unpaid care for people with dementia.”

AILN is currently at the initial stages of the project and is actively seeking applications from individuals all over Ayrshire to join their team as dementia befrienders.

All referrals will be assessed by the project to gauge if the service is suitable.

The person will then be matched with a volunteer, after considerations such as likes, dislikes, what activity the person would like to do or where they would like to go.

To find out more about AILN and the dementia befriending service, contact them via email at befriending@ailn.org or call 01294 475682.