A SOUTHAMPTON-born woman has answered a charity’s plea for residents to support the city’s lonely and isolated.

Mother Leila Andrews, 35, is part of an army of volunteers at Communicare, a charity aiming to eradicate loneliness for people across the city.

Having taken a career break after giving birth to her son last year, she decided to take on the role of a volunteer befriender with the charity.

She had previously worked in marketing and communications since leaving university in 2005.

Leila, who lives in Ampfield, said: “I saw an article and Facebook post about Communicare and attended one of their Open Day sessions just before the coronavirus lockdown to find out more, and chatted to one of the team members.

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“I felt aligned with what they were doing and wanted to be a part of it.”

Communicare’s Good Neighbours’ Network normally supports nearly 400 individuals and families annually, covering more than 2,300 tasks including one-to-one befriending, transport to activities, and shopping for vulnerable people before the lockdown.

Leila lost her nan, who was in her nineties, two years ago and now wants to give her time to help other people.

She added: “I worked in a rather corporate industry and always felt I’d missed my calling to be able to help others more. Before the lockdown, I enjoyed seeing family and friends, travelling with my husband, going to watch films, theatre or gigs and going to my gym classes.

“I also lost my nana a couple of years ago. Her community had changed over the years, her friends had moved on and she wasn’t able to get out anymore.

"If it wasn’t for my mum and our close family, she would have been alone. This makes me really sad.

“I just like being around people, so volunteering is actually really helping me too through lockdown, as well as those I befriend and assist with shopping.

"You can give as much or as little time as you can spare, every interaction can really help. It’s mutually enriching.”

Coronavirus: Communicare asks households in Southampton and UK to say hello to neighbours during lockdown

All the assistance Communicare offers is free to users, although beneficiaries are invited to make a donation if they can, and and 'Communiteers' are offered expenses.

The charity is urging people to volunteer now to help others in their community.

To volunteer, call 023 8021 6023 or visit www.communicareinsouthampton.org.uk.