Members of the community who are unable to get out and about, feel lonely or isolated could benefit from Orange City Council’s Community Visitors Scheme (CVS).
The CVS arranges volunteers to visit older people to provide friendship and companionship and help develop social connections. The free service is available to anyone on a Home Care Package.
Older people can feel lonely for various reasons such as little contact with friends or relatives, feeling isolated from their culture and heritage, mobility issues that prevent them from taking part in social activities, or being different in some way.
Orange Mayor Reg Kidd said regular visits from volunteers could help to improve a person’s quality of life.
“It is important to support older people who may be feeling isolated or lonely, and that has become even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cr Kidd said.
“Border closures mean many older people have been isolated from their families, while other restrictions have significantly reduced the amount of social contact and support older people have been able to receive.”
Services Policy Committee chair, Cr Scott Munro, said older people can refer themselves to the service, however the CVS also accepts referrals from service providers, family members and friends.
“A volunteer might accompany you for a walk around the garden or simply have a chat. The volunteers will adhere to social distancing rules in accordance with public health orders,” Cr Munro said.
“Or if you don’t feel up to a visitor in your home, you could receive a phone call, a video chat or a letter. The important thing is people are receiving support and staying connected with their community.”
Michael Egan has been visiting Jack Griffith once a week for about a year, since Jack was referred to the scheme by his home care package provider.
The pair enjoy chatting about the news and current affairs, as well as Jack’s hobby of breeding birds, and taking walks in the garden to check out Jack’s aviaries.
“It turns out we have a lot in common and have a lot of the same values,” Jack said.
“I enjoy the visits from Michael because they are something to look forward to, they’re something a bit different.”
Michael said he volunteered for the program because he knew what it was like to feel isolated and enjoyed the socialisation.
“I live on my own as well so it’s great for me to get out. We talk about a whole range of things.”
For more information on the Community Visitors Scheme, contact 6393 8600.