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Combating Loneliness

Media Release: Age Concern New Zealand
Combating Loneliness – Age Concern volunteers making a difference
Today is International Volunteer Day and Age Concern is celebrating our wonderful volunteers

“Loneliness is as big a health risk as smoking”, says Ann Martin, CEO of Age Concern New Zealand, “and our Accredited Visiting Service relies on over 2,000 dedicated volunteer visitors aged from 18 to 90, who are doing a wonderful job of supporting lonely and socially isolated older people around New Zealand.”

“Research shows that having good social networks can protect against a range of health problems like heart disease, memory loss, strokes, depression, and even the common cold,” adds Ms Martin.

The Age Concern Accredited Visiting Service provided around 75,000 visits and 10,000 phone calls last year to older people seeking more company and ways to link back into their communities. The service matches older people to trained volunteers, who visit them in their homes or take them out to enjoy activities and make other social connections.

The benefits of visiting go both ways. In the latest visitor satisfaction survey 100% of volunteer visitors who responded said that they enjoy their role, and 98% said that they benefit from visiting an older person. One visitor tells us, “I have met a lovely lady, and made a new friend! I love the fact that the lady I visit looks forward to seeing me, as I do her”.

Another way to volunteer for Age Concern is to sign up to become a Dignity Champion, and work to change attitudes and behaviours that devalue older people.

“This Volunteer Awareness Week we want to take the opportunity to thank our wonderful volunteers” says Ms Martin. “They are making a huge difference to the health and well-being of older people throughout New Zealand.”

To find out about becoming an Age Concern Accredited Visitor or a Dignity Champion click on this link: http://www.ageconcern.org.nz/ .

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