CAMPAIGNERS are stepping up their fight to prevent loneliness among disabled people following the shock closure of a vital service.

Former members of Inverclyde Council on Disability (ICOD) have established a friendship group called Inverclyde Buddies.

They organise social events, including cinema trips and games days, to help people get out and about.

Volunteer Johanna Stewart, who has spina bifida and has been involved in disabled services for nearly 20 years, is passionate about the cause.

Like many disabled people she has been affected greatly by the loss of ICOD.

She said: "We continued Inverclyde Buddies because there really is very little for people with physical disabilities.

"It is about getting independence, meeting people, having a chat, finding new friends and having a reason to get out the house.

"People can feel every isolated and alone.

"We are urging anyone who is feeling isolated or alone to come along.

"It is open to absolutely everyone."

With the support of local community care forum Your Voice, which has also taken over the Shopmobility service founded by ICOD, they run the group three times a month.

They are now planning to become a formal group so that they can start bidding for grant funding which could go a long way.

Johanna added: "One of the biggest barriers for people with physical disabilities is the cost of transport - when we organise a day trip we have to pay hundreds of pounds more for coaches with disability access."

Fellow member Ann Vater, who is a wheelchair user, said: "There are just so many benefits to the group.

"There are days that I don't feel like going out but I always go and I feel the better for it."

The group meets on Fridays from 1 to 4pm in the Your Voice HQ at Clyde Square.

To find out more call Your Voice on 728628 or contact Johanna on 07702059604.