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Volunteering's a win/win for Age Concern volunteers

Volunteering's a win/win for Age Concern volunteers and seniors

Volunteers are helping older people to be healthier and happier through a successful Age Concern programme.

The national organisation for older people is marking International Volunteer Day, this Sunday, by highlighting the benefits volunteer visitors and chronically lonely or socially isolated people can bring to each other.

"Volunteer visitors make a huge difference in the lives of older people," Age Concern president Liz Baxendine says.

The Accredited Visiting Service Ratonga Torotoro Whaimana (AVS) provides regular visits to older people who need more company, in communities across the country.

“Our volunteers are aged from 18 to over 90. Last year, they made over 69,000 visits to older people who have become lonely or socially isolated and want more company.

"It's important work because chronic loneliness is a health issue," Liz Baxendine says.

"Recent UK research shows that loneliness makes older people ill. It also makes them more vulnerable to abuse and neglect, and more likely to enter rest home care."

Age Concern staff work with people like Ron*:

He told me that he had a pain in his chest. He pointed to the centre of his chest and, as he had already had heart attacks, we thought he was telling us that he was having another. But no, he was saying he was so lonely that he felt an actual physical pain in the area of his heart.

"Social isolation can happen so slowly, we may not even notice it till it's a problem. But for someone who has become isolated, going out with their Age Concern visitor can be the first step towards reconnecting with their community.”

AVS Coordinators screen, select, and train volunteer visitors. They then carefully match visitors to clients, and provide ongoing monitoring and support to ensure the match is working well for both people. AVS Visitors visit their clients regularly, usually once a week. They support their clients to achieve as much reconnection with their communities as they wish.

Local Age Concerns want to hear from potential volunteers who have time to share with older people in their communities.

© Scoop Media

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