Vol­un­teer helps to fight lone­li­ness

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - ENVIRONMENT - Tim Slater

CLOVERDALE vol­un­teer Julie Young reaches out to lonely peo­ple through the Red Cross Tele­cross sup­port ser­vice.

She is part of a ded­i­cated team of peo­ple at Red Cross which is call­ing for help to sup­port thou­sands of Australians at risk of se­ri­ous ill­ness or in­jury.

Ms Young has been call­ing lonely peo­ple for the past eight years, mak­ing sure they are al­right, af­ter suf­fer­ing an ac­ci­dent and be­ing in need of the same ser­vice her­self.

She de­vel­oped mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis when she was 27 and had an ac­ci­dent af­ter com­ing off her mo­bil­ity scooter, frac­tur­ing a ver­te­bra in her back nine years ago.

The Tele­cross ser­vice helped her cope with re­cov­er­ing from the ac­ci­dent and she found that vol­un­teer­ing and help­ing other peo­ple was good for her men­tal well­be­ing.

Aus­tralian Red Cross chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Judy Slatyer said the or­gan­i­sa­tion had helped more than 20,000 lonely Australians last year.

Re­search has shown be­ing lonely is as bad for health as cig­a­rettes and obe­sity.

Lone­li­ness poses a risk of death equiv­a­lent to smok­ing 15 cig­a­rettes a day, ac­cord­ing to a ma­jor re­view of 148 stud­ies.

“Mount­ing re­search also shows that lone­li­ness and iso­la­tion have a big im­pact on over­all health and well­be­ing, pos­ing in­creased risks of heart at­tacks, de­pressed im­mune sys­tem, lifethreat­en­ing can­cers and de­pres­sion,” Ms Slatyer said.

“Win­ter is of­ten the hard­est time of year for peo­ple who are do­ing it tough and it’s crit­i­cal that we all think of lend­ing a hand to our friends, neigh­bours and fam­ily mem­bers.”

Ms Slatyer urged peo­ple to donate to the Red Cross Do­ing It Tough cam­paign d455242 be­fore June 30.

“We want to help peo­ple get back on their feet af­ter the tough­est of times,” she said.

“We must never ac­cept that life can’t be bet­ter.

“Peo­ple of all ages and all walks of life ex­pe­ri­ence lone­li­ness but it’s the poor­est who suf­fer most, in­clud­ing young home­less peo­ple and fam­i­lies strug­gling to make ends meet.”

Visit red­cross.org. au/Do­ingItTough.

Pic­ture: Marie Nirme

Julie Young is a vol­un­teer with Tele­cross.

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