EMPLOYEES at an energy firm have been volunteering their time to combat loneliness in older people.
Carolynne Woodgate, from Milton, is one of a group of people at Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution, who make friendship calls as part of Age UK’s Call in Time befriending service.
According to Age UK, one million older people go a month without talking to anybody.
To combat this, the charity has founded a friendship scheme where volunteers provide weekly phone calls to an older person.
Carolynne, who works at SSEPD’s Cosham Emergency Service Centre, has been getting to know an elderly lady called Alice and keeping her company.
She said: ‘I’m delighted to be paired up with Alice. We’ve been chatting almost four months now, but right from our first call it had felt like we had known each other for years.
‘There was no awkward silence and we just got on well from the start.
‘We talk about a whole load of things and both make each other laugh. She describes me as “the star in her sky”.
‘There were two weeks when we couldn’t speak because Alice was unwell and I missed her so much.
‘As soon as we put the phone down I always look forward to our next chat.’
Age UK also raises awareness of loneliness and the role that individuals, families and communities play in helping ensure older people feel valued and included.
Colin Nicol, managing director for SSEPD, said: ‘Something as simple as a weekly phone call can make such a huge difference to someone who is lonely, and I’d like to support our staff to help those most in need.’
The group of 14 SSEPD staff have been involved since April, having together clocked up more than 80 hours talking to the older people they have been paired with.
The company is now recruiting more volunteers for the scheme, and has donated £200,000 to Age UK this year to help the charity combat issues faced by people in later life.