Age Matters seeks Friendly Assistance Volunteers
People of the Illawarra are being urged to support vulnerable older people in the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by becoming a Friendly Assistance Volunteer with Age Matters.
Age Matters is the only initiative in the Illawarra dedicated to tackling the three central tenants of social disadvantage among older Australians – homelessness, loneliness and joblessness. Serving approximately 100 vulnerable people aged over 55 throughout the Illawarra, Age Matters is calling for civic-minded citizens to register as a Friendly Assistance Volunteer to help support this at-risk group.
Age Matters Head of Social Impact, Toby Dawson says that Age Matters clients were already extremely vulnerable before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our clients are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, as many have more than one of the risk factors; with compromised immune systems, chronic health conditions or disabilities making self-isolation complex and difficult,” Toby said.
“Through the Friendly Assistance Volunteer program we hope volunteers will not only provide regular contact and companionship but help identify priority needs for our clients that Age Matters can then coordinate.”
Volunteers will be matched with a client based on factors such as shared interests, demographic, and gender, and asked to keep in touch through regular phone calls. All volunteers are screened, trained, and insured before being paired with an Age Matters client to provide companionship and identify any priority needs.
“Most importantly, by keeping in touch through regular phone calls volunteers will be a source of comfort and companionship. Having a person to listen and care, even if on the other end of the phone, has never been more relevant,” Toby said.
Wollongong based fitness group Savvy Fitness is an early supporter of the Friendly Assistance Volunteer program and have leveraged their 400 plus membership to recruit volunteers. More than 30 Savvy Fitness members and friends have registered to date and are already providing much needed support to Age Matters clients.
Owner and Manager of Savvy Fitness, Angela Saville says it is so important that we are looking after our community now more than ever.
“With so many people spending more time away from family, friends and work many of us might be feeling lonelier than ever. At Savvy we have already experienced the power of a phone call to check in on people who have been isolated. It really is the little things that make a difference,” Ms Saville said.
Camilla Berger a Savvy Fitness member was recently paired with Susan, an Age Matters client. Susan has been struggling with self-isolating during the pandemic and is living with mental health issues. Camilla arranged to call Susan every Wednesday afternoon for a friendly chat.
Susan says it’s really good knowing she has somebody volunteering their time and wanting to spend it talking with her.
“I look forward to my call from Camilla and our phone chats are very important to me. Camilla’s not just asking how I am or if I need anything but we have a real conversation,” Susan said.
To become a Friendly Assistance Volunteer and make a difference for a vulnerable older person living in the Illawarra visit https://tinyurl.com/FriendlyAssistance.
Media enquiries: Hannah Ellson 0429 361 627
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