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These are difficult times for voluntary and community organisations in Gateshead and Newcastle with a number of long established organisations currently under threat of closure. There are a variety of reasons behind the difficuties the voluntary sector is facing but in the West End of Newcastle two charities, working with older people to tackle social isolation, are coming together to ensure they can continue to deliver vital local services. 

On 1 April West End Befrienders and Search with over 75 years of service between them with join forces to offer a broader range of services under the Search name. 

West End Befrienders, founded in the mid-1980s, works through local volunteers to provide befriending and advocacy to older people. The particular expertise of the organisation lies in its work with the South Asian and Chinese communities. West End Befrienders offers exercise classes, talks and activities as well as supporting every day activities such as shopping or attending medical appointments. 

Search, founded in the mid-1970s, delivers a number of projects for older people and their carers, across the west of Newcastle. Services include an advice and information service, a number of community activity groups and volunteering opportunities, plus, the Chain Reaction and the Lunchlinks service, recently commissioned by Newcastle city council.

Rose Gilroy, Chair of West End Befrienders Management committee said "I am delighted that we have been welcomed into the Search family. This provides a secure future for our services to isolated older people. In these difficult times for the voluntary sector it makes sense for two organisations with shared values and common purpose to join together to offer not only continuity of service but enriched opportunities to older people in the West End of Newcastle”

Wendy Dale, Chair of Search Trustees said “This is an exciting opportunity to develop the potential of both organisations which is rare in times of austerity. I am optimistic about the future of both”