Kingston Council (RBK) are urging more residents to sign up as "buddies" for vulnerable residents shielding at home from the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The council previously set up the 'befriending service' as part of its volunteer coordination efforts under the Kingston Stronger Together hub.

"We know that some of our communities are vulnerable to social isolation and may need emotional support at this challenging time.

"To help with this we have launched a befriending service, putting vulnerable residents in touch with volunteers who check in with them regularly over the phone," a spokesperson for RBK said.

On Friday (April 24) the council announced that over 100 Kingstonians had already signed up to be buddies with a number of most at-risk residents forced to stay inside indefinitely during the coronavirus pandemic.

"So far we have had an amazing 155 volunteers sign up to be a buddy - thank you! - and 105 local people have already been paired with a buddy," RBK said, describing how pairs are matched depending on language preferences, backgrounds and other criteria.

Volunteer Penny D’Souza who is one of the people already matched with someone isolating, described what the experience had been like so far:

“My buddy is a great match. The conversation flows and we have a laugh. My buddy is very appreciative of the support.

"It is also lovely for me to hear a different voice, to focus on someone else and to have a chat and widen my horizons," she said.

Those interested in signing up can go the Kingston Stronger Together section of RBK's website or call 020 8547 5000.