Ser­vice turn­ing strangers into friends

Manukau Courier - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - CHRIS HARROWELL

Ella Jenk­ins may not be a spring chicken any­more but she still loves a bit of girl talk.

The South Auck­land se­nior cit­i­zen, who lives with her hus­band, is among the peo­ple us­ing Age Con­cern Coun­ties Manukau’s free ac­cred­ited vis­it­ing ser­vice.

‘‘When I got cancer I had to give up driv­ing,’’ she says. ’’That was the worst thing be­cause I didn’t see any­one.

‘‘I just sat at home. I thought it would be nice to have some­one come and see me.’’

That some­one turned out to be vol­un­tary vis­i­tor Nina Barnes.

Barnes says she and Jenk­ins en­joy ‘‘gos­sip­ing’’ dur­ing her vis­its, which are for an hour or two once a week. They en­joy each other’s com­pany and have be­come friends, she says.

‘‘Ella is house­bound so my role is to give com­pan­ion­ship. I’m just some­one who comes and sits and chats.

‘‘We do girl talk and some­times we go out to­gether. You’re [the vis­i­tors] just help­ing other peo­ple who are trapped at home and need a lit­tle com­pany.’’

Barnes says she and Jenk­ins share a love of knit­ting and gar­den­ing and like swap­ping sto­ries about their fam­i­lies.

‘‘I’ve gained an­other friend. It [be­ing a vis­i­tor] makes you more com­pas­sion­ate as well as un­der­stand how ill­ness af­fects not just the body but also the mind.

‘‘It also de­vel­ops you as a per­son. You just have the time to give and learn and be open-minded.’’

Jenk­ins says the vis­it­ing ser- vice has stopped her from ‘‘go­ing within my­self’’.

‘‘I didn’t feel like I was locked here in a cage. It doesn’t worry me at all now. We [she and Barnes] just looked at each other and I knew I’d like her.’’

The vis­it­ing ser­vice is co­or­di­nated by Lisa Wall and Lynn Cicero. Wall says vis­i­tors are needed in Pa­p­a­toe­toe, Ma¯ngere, Ma­nurewa and Takanini.

They need to have a giv­ing na­ture, pa­tience, and a will­ing­ness to help oth­ers, she says.

‘‘The big­gest sit­u­a­tions where we need a vis­i­tor are where some­one loses a driver’s li­cence, or be­comes re­stricted through loss of mo­bil­ity or sight.

‘‘We need peo­ple who are avail­able dur­ing week­days as the clients of­ten have fam­ily see them at week­ends.’’

Vis­i­tors un­dergo a police check and re­ceive on­go­ing train­ing and sup­port.

Phone 09 279 4331 for more in­for­ma­tion.

CHRIS HARROWELL

Age Con­cern Coun­ties Manukau Ac­cred­ited Vis­it­ing Ser­vice vis­i­tor Nina Barnes, left, with Ella Jenk­ins, who’s one of the ser­vice’s clients.

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