So­cial iso­la­tion is com­mon place

One-on-one vol­un­teer can be as­signed to those in need­ing of a friend

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By CHE BAKER

Many peo­ple in Cen­tral Otago are on the fringe of so­cial iso­la­tion and are in need of a friend. It has been sci­en­tif­i­cally proven that friend­ship has a pro­found ef­fect on our lives and main­tain­ing and form­ing friend­ships is an im­por­tant pil­lar of brain health. The Cen­tral Otago Friend­ship Net­work needs your help to erad­i­cate lone­li­ness - one of the most de­bil­i­tat­ing ex­pe­ri­ences a per­son can have. Net­work chair­woman Jan Pos­sione said re­search has un­for­tu­nately found New Zealand was ‘‘not do­ing well with so­cial con­nec­tions’’. The net­work pro­motes friend­ship to peo­ple with limited so­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties by match­ing vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple with a one-on-one vol­un­teer and host­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in group meet­ings. ‘‘We are here for those at risk of be­ing so­cially iso­lated,’’ Mrs Pos­sione said. The net­work, which was only pos­si­ble with thte sup­port of Cen­tral Lakes Trust, has wel­comed two new staff mem­bers, co­or­di­na­tor Gay McCaughan and as­sis­tant co-orig­i­na­tor Jan­ice Gray. Mrs McCaughan said it was search­ing for vol­un­teers across a range of age groups to help with peo­ple iden­ti­fied at risk and re­fer­rals, in­clud­ing self-re­fer­rals, were also wel­comed. ‘‘It’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to know they can re­fer them­selves,’’ she said. The group holds meet­ings three days a week which in­clude play­ing cards, go­ing for cof­fee and be­ing among a group of peo­ple those in­volved can trust. ‘‘There’s so many peo­ple out there that are on the fringe and don’t have an op­por­tu­nity to make friends. ‘‘There are so many lonely peo­ple. We can reach out to them and give them some hap­pi­ness,’’ Mrs Gray said. Vol­un­teers were al­ways needed to help drive those in­volved in the net­work to meet­ings and if some­one could give up a few hours a month to vol­un­teer it would be much ap­pre­ci­ated, Mrs McCaughan said. Mrs McCaughan and Mrs Gray re­place found­ing mem­ber Kath McKen­zie, who was in­volved in set­ting up the group and had been a part of the team for al­most 25 years. ‘‘If that’s not ded­i­ca­tion, I don’t know what is,’’ Mrs Pos­sione said.

Friendly: Cen­tral Otago Friend­ship Net­work co-or­di­na­tor Gay McCaughan, chair­woman Jan Pos­sione and as­sis­tant co­or­di­na­tor Jan­ice Gray are look­ing for vol­un­teers and re­fer­rals for the ser­vice. Can you help or do you know of any­one in need? Con­tact the Cen­tral Otago Friend­ship Net­work co or­di­na­tor Gay McCaughan on 447 3636

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.