Parkway Shopping Centre in Coulby Newham has joined forces with charity Age UK Teesside to promote and support their Befriending Service, benefiting people in the local community.


The service, which is funded by Middlesbrough Borough Council, provides the opportunity for older people to be matched with a befriender who has similar interests and who will provide friendly conversation and companionship on a regular basis, over a long period of time.


Staff at the busy shopping centre will be undergoing training from the charity, to better understand the service and use this training to both identify those people in the local community who could benefit from the free service and to help those people interested, to become a volunteer.


Zoe France, Centre Manager: ”I think we can all emphasise how isolation impacts on older people. They can become depressed and sometimes a bit lost in society. I really wanted to showcase what a wonderful service this is and help make a difference.


Zoe continues: “After our staff have been trained, we are going to hold a day in the centre promoting the service and recruiting volunteers. My vision is to build on this by getting stores who often have an older customer base, such as  Boots and Specsavers, to become involved. We then want to hold a weekly befriending café in the centre to support this wonderful campaign”


Befriending Service Manager at Age UK Teesside, Paula Taylor, who will providing the training, added: “Having a platform such as a popular shopping centre like the Parkway, is a fantastic opportunity for Age UK Teesside to really promote what we can offer. We want to make the service as accessible as possible, for as many people as possible, so offering a weekly catch up located in the heart of the community, makes sense”.


Dates to be confirmed on the Parkways website – For more information of the befriending service visit