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ALEXIA.JOHNSTON

@alliedpress.co.nz

A call for more volunteers to sign up to Central Otago Age Concern’s visiting service has been answered, although another group is still seeking people.

The Age Concern group put out a plea last month, asking people to give their time, once a week for an hour, to visit elderly people in their homes.

Central Otago Age Concern co-ordinator Marie Roxburgh said a simple visit could help reduce the risk of loneliness some elderly residents faced, particularly if they lived alone.

Ten people had been added to the books, with some saying they had been unaware of the need.

“When people rang me they said they would love to do it.”

Applicants go through a police vetting process before they are given someone to visit regularly.

Mrs Roxburgh said the response had been great.

“It’s a lot of work, but really lovely.

“It’s just been fantastic.”

Some of the recent applicants were young mothers on maternity leave who were keen to share their babies with the older generation.

Men were also among those who had contacted the service.

“[It is] really good because quite often men just like other men to talk to,” Mrs Roxburgh said.

People who had offered to volunteer were from Alexandra, Cromwell, Clyde and Ranfurly.

“It’s wonderful.”

As of last month, more than 65 people from around Central Otago received visits through the programme.

The Central Otago Friendship Network was also looking for volunteers to assist local residents.

One driver was needed to help take elderly people to group gatherings.

Co-ordinator Gay McCaughan said volunteers were also needed to help with general duties, including people to establish ongoing friendships.

Young people with a disability were among those who relied on the group as they transitioned from school to life outside the classroom.

The group met regularly, sometimes for outings, including afternoon tea.

Men and young women were among the people she hoped would assist the group more in the future.

“[We want them] to be that person in your life that’s not paid to be there. That’s so important – they are just there because it’s their choice.”