Accredited visiting co-ordinator Fran Reardon, manager Linda McCarthy, and health co-ordinator Rachel Ingram. PHOTO/ELI HILL

Service helps elderly from Eketahuna to South Wairarapa

Eli Hill

Through loneliness, isolation and tough times, Age Concern Wairarapa has supported older people in the community.

But as more of the world shifts online, the organisation wants to get its own website – and it needs help from the community.

Age Concern Wairarapa runs a volunteer visiting service, elder abuse response service, networks, a range of health programmes, and raises awareness of issues facing older people.

Many older people are self-reliant, healthy, and only use the service to meet new people or join exercise groups.

But there are also elderly who are lonely and feel socially isolated that the service want to help, manager Linda McCarthy said.

“During lockdown, we spent a lot of time ringing our older community to make sure that they were okay.

“We started with 10-minute calls and at the end of lockdown, many of the calls were 45 minutes to an hour long – they just needed someone to talk to.”

Age Concern Wairarapa’s Accredited Visiting Service has a small army of about 60 volunteers who meet people who are isolated, have no family, and would like regular company.

“The same visitor will visit the same person all the time.

“They might read to them, have a cuppa, and share stories.

“Some of the volunteers have been visiting for many years.

“What we have noticed is that, after lockdown, there are some older people who are too frightened to go out.”

McCarthy said it was important to promote people going outside, doing exercise, seeing friends, and meeting people.

In its latest newsletter, the service gave advice about everything from gas lighting to taking care of physical, mental, and emotional health.

Tips for older people to look after their well-being included “taking time to talk with someone who makes you feel good”, rediscovering an old interest, or “give a special thank you to people who tautoko/support you”.

The service had several groups and classes coming up, including two brand new workshops – Staying Safe, which focuses on road safety, and Life Without a Car which helps the elderly transition from life with a car to life without one.

The service looks out for elderly from Eketahuna to South Wairarapa, yet it still doesn’t have its own website. This makes it hard for people to get in contact, or for the service to put out information to the people who use it, McCarthy said.

“It’d be great if someone wanted to loan or volunteer their services to build a website for us.

“We just want someone to say this is my good deed for the year. It’s a small thing a website, but it’s a big thing for us.”

An online presence would allow the service to post videos of classes/exercise groups to members who can’t make events. It would also allow friends, family, and elderly to search for its services online.

While the service makes do, money is often tight, particularly now that it isn’t able to fundraise the way it used to.

McCarthy said any donations were welcome as well as anyone wanting to join as a member.

  • People can get in touch with Age Concern Wairarapa on [06] 377 0066.