A CARE home in Darwen will be the first in the area to benefit from a £540,000 national volunteering project.

Blackburn with Darwen Community and Voluntary Service was one of five centres across the UK selected to take part in the pilot programme to encourage local people to volunteer in care homes.

The Volunteer Centre will initially recruit people to take part in activities with residents at Moorland View Care Home in Exchange Street, Darwen.

The activities will include befriending, IT skills, music and games and the volunteers will also be taking residents to church and the cinema, as well as helping them write letters.

Residents will also be encouraged to volunteer themselves, for example, by sharing their personal histories in schools. Garth Hodgkinson, chief executive of Blackburn with Darwen CVS, said: “Developing closer connections with their local communities through volunteering leads to better care homes with happier and more supported residents.

“Volunteers can complement the work of paid staff and bring a richness and diversity of experience that can greatly enhance residents’ lives.

“Expert volunteer centres will be sharing their experience in order to establish good practice in the involvement of volunteers and give care homes the skills they need to recruit and support volunteers effectively themselves.”

Coun Mohammed Khan, Blackburn with Darwen Council executive member for health and adult social care, said: “This is an excellent scheme and I look forward to seeing it develop.

“As our Your Call campaign showed, strong communities and neighbourliness are vital to making the borough a better place. “Schemes such as these can help build strong communities.”

The project will be extended to other care homes in the borough.

The scheme, funded by the Department of Health’s innovation programme, will run until March 2016.