A COTSWOLD befriending charity is expanding its services after receiving a £225,000 funding boost.

Cotswold Volunteers North, based at Moreton Library, was awarded part of a £500,000 Big Lottery grant which it will share with two other brefriending charities in the south of the district.

A joint bid was submitted with Gloucestershire Rural Community Council’s People for You and Churn Good Neighbours, with Cotswold District Council acting as a ‘critical friend’. The cash will be shared out to all three befriending services over the next five years.

Beth Johnson, chief executive officer of Cotswold Volunteers North, said: “This is fantastic news. It’s been a lot of hard work carried out by our development manager Amanda Howard.

“Currently we are helping 120 people with our befriending services and over the five years of Big Lottery funding we are looking to increase that by 50 per cent.

“We are here to reduce isolation in this rural community and we hope that a greater number of beneficiaries will feel less isolated and will report improved confidence and well-being.”

The charity will get about £45,000 extra a year for the next five years to expand its services to the elderly and people with conditions including Parkinson’s and dementia.

Councillor Carole Topple, cabinet member for communities and health at CDC, praised the charity’s efforts.

“Over the years the council has been involved in the provision of befriending services in the north and south of the district, either by managing them or helping to fund them,” she said.

“It was clear that considerable – and costly – consolidation was essential to maintain and improve what was on offer overall, and we are very grateful to Cotswold Volunteers North for coming to the fore and leading on the bid.

“Officers at the council worked closely with them to ensure their proposals were as effective as possible, and this joint working has clearly paid dividends.”