Help us combat loneliness in Cumbria!

Meet Leanne

31727735_202608683875990_1167142884353245184_nHi, I’m the Registered Care Manager for the Human Support Group in Cumbria. The company provides domiciliary care to older residents and myself and my carers are able to see first-hand how truly lonely some of the local residents are. Although our care staff are able to build up a great rapport with many of our clients, it isn’t the same experience for them as having a friend come to visit, there are tasks that need completing and a schedule to keep to.

Myself and my care team are passionate about raising £10,000 to help start up a befriending scheme in Cumbria. We’ve visited the Manchester branch of Cyril Flint and seen the incredible impact befrienders are having on local people’s lives. We’re keen to bring members of the community together in Cumbria to try to help combat the issue of loneliness and isolation. If you want to support us you can donate here:

Or contact Leanne on if you want to find out more about getting involved in our mission to raise £10,000!

How is loneliness impacting the older people in Cumbria

In Cumbria, there are more than 205,700 households across the county with residents aged 50+ years, accounting for 42% of all households in the county. Of those households almost 1 in 4 are people living alone[1]. This amounts to 32,000 pensioners that are living alone and are potentially feeling lonely and socially isolated. Half live in rural areas with limited access to transport and services, which can make their solitary existence unbearable. As a domiciliary care company, this is something our carers see on a daily basis. Unfortunately, having conversations and building up relationships with care givers, is still not enough to help ward away older people’s feelings of loneliness and isolation; what they are truly in need of is friendship.

We can all appreciate that loneliness is an upsetting feeling, but did you know that loneliness has a huge impact on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing? Indeed research has found that being lonely is more dangerous to our health than obesity, can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day[2] and can lead to earlier onset of dementia, as well as being linked to causes of depression and cognitive decline[3]. What is so upsetting about this is that loneliness is something we can solve. If we come together as a community and all dedicate just a short amount of time, such as an hour a week, we can truly help transform a lonely person’s life.

This is exactly what the charity Cyril Flint Befrienders is doing. They are reducing social isolation and loneliness in older people in Greater Manchester by bringing communities together. They recruit, train and DBS check volunteers from the local community and match them up with an older person who lives nearby. The volunteer then visits the older person for an hour a week, providing them with that much needed friendship they desire.

The benefits from befriending are incredible, not only do older people report reduced feelings of isolation and loneliness, they advise that their self-esteem and confidence is improved by having someone who visits out of choice, rather than a paid professional. They also advise that the feelings last much longer than the one hour visit, as they can think over the conversations afterwards, talk about it with others and look forward to their next visit. They also feel connected to the community again as they have a local friend, so even if they themselves are housebound, they can feel involved via their befriender.

We feel that having such a provision will be invaluable in Cumbria and will really help transform older people’s lives. The directors of The Human Support Group set up the charity in Greater Manchester and have agreed to provide support for a new branch to be set up in Cumbria, upon us successfully raising £10,000 to contribute towards start-up costs.

From 1st May, myself and the team at Homecare Support across Cumbria will be working tirelessly to raise the £10,000 target! We will keep you posted on events and challenges planned. We’re looking for local businesses and people to help us reach our target, so please get in touch if you want to get involved!

In the meantime, please dig deep and donate to this great cause and help us reach our target by 30th April 2019!

Thank you for your support,




[1] Cumbria County Council, Social Isolation and Loneliness paper 2015

[2] Age UK 2015

[3] Campaign to End Loneliness

powell_marc_riley1 (2)

Marc Riley – Cyril Flint’s new Patron

Cyril Flint Befrienders Welcomes Marc Riley as Patron

‘I first became aware of Cyril in the November of 2011. I trundled off into the kitchen only to find my wife Trace sat at the table, reading the local paper, in what I can only describe as a ‘heap’. Now knowing my Trace it could well have been a story about a local Staffordshire Bull Terrier that went missing at Sale Water Park…but it wasn’t…it was something much more in need of urgent attention than that. Trace was reading the story of a local man called Cyril Flint who was lonely and was once again (not) looking forward to another Christmas dinner on his own. The appeal had been instigated by one of the bosses, Dan O’Donoghue of the Human Support Group that provided Cyril with daily home care.

Thankfully Cyril’s plight struck as much of a chord with hundreds of other people as it did with Trace and I… and he was inundated with offers. The response to the article led to Dan recognising there were not only people out there who were lonely and needed companionship, but there were also people who were desperate to help. So the ‘Cyril Flint Befriender’ charity began. Almost seven years later I find my wife Trace is now one of the volunteers and has struck up a firm friendship with her new best mate Beryl (a fellow Man City supporter)…and I the Patron of this brilliant organisation. If life proves to be kind enough to you and I, we will eventually reach an old age. If we are very fortunate we will have a circle of loved ones and friends who will be there for companionship. Try to imagine having no-one to share your thoughts and laughs with, or your woes, it doesn’t bear thinking about. That’s why when Dan asked me to be the Patron for his befriending charity I replied “It’d be an honour”. And indeed it is.

If you’ve ever heard one of my radio broadcasts over the last 28 years, well (1) Sorry… and (2) you will know that I’m not an overly serious character. I choose to laugh my way through life wherever possible, and aided by Cyril Flint’s memory you might well be able to help create much of the same joy for not only yourself but also someone else desperately in need of some happiness in their lives.

Thankfully there appears to be a healthy number of good people out there who want to spend some of their downtime in the company of a lonely older person. Less plentiful though are the funds to help organise and administrate this army of kindness. If you would like to donate to Cyril’s charity then thank you… you can do so by clicking here. If you’d like to be ‘hands-on’ but don’t live in the South Manchester area and simple geography stands in your way then maybe you could organise a fund-raising event? A pub quiz? A coffee-morning? A welly-throwing tournament? Anything apart from a ‘Throw a DJ in a lake’ competition really! Whatever you can do to help could well prove to be a life-saver for a lonely person who has little or no joy in their life.

Thanks for your time.’

Marc RileyX BBC 6 Music.

Photo of Marc supplied by Michael Powell.

If you are interested in fundraising for Cyril Flint Befrienders or want to find out more about fundraising options, please contact: Alex Neil: 

Marc Riley Needs You

Pub Quiz Night

If you are interested in hosting your own quiz night to raise funds for Cyril Flint Befrienders, get in touch for a free Quiz Pack, including a special Music round written by me! All enquiries should be sent to Alex Neil: