When Peter Williams and Dennis King signed up for Age Concern’s accredited visitor service, they got exactly what they were looking for.
The pair met six months ago – Mr King as a client and Mr Williams as a volunteer.
Mr King had recently moved to Oamaru from Australia to be closer to family – he has a daughter in Christchurch and a son in Weston.
He was signed up for the programme by his daughter, Julie, and soon looked forward to his weekly visits from Mr Williams.
“We get on pretty well,” Mr King said.
“We are on the same wavelength.”
He really valued having someone to talk to, especially after moving countries.
“We are a social animal.”
They had a casual arrangement, where Mr Williams could come over anytime for a chat or they would head to town for an outing.
“You quickly find out what you have in common, ” Mr Williams said.
Their friendship was made easy by being of a similar age, but Age Concern Otago Waitaki co-ordinator Caitriona Prunty said age did not necessarily matter to make a connection.
In fact, Age Concern welcomed intergenerational connections and anyone over the age of 16 could volunteer.
Ms Prunty said Age Concern was always on the lookout for volunteers, but found people were often daunted by committing to the visiting programme.
She said the service was about building relationships and social connections.
Before becoming employed by Age Concern, she was a volunteer for the programme herself.
“The rewards are unexpected.
“[People] don’t realise how much it will benefit them .. you get a life out of it yourself.”
A survey conducted by Age Concern New Zealand found 98% of its volunteers enjoyed and felt that they benefited from their role, and 91% of its clients felt happier after receiving the visiting service.
She said volunteers did not need qualifications, they just needed a “warm heart”.
Age Concern’s Kurow social connections co-ordinator, Jody Macdonald, would be available to chat to anyone interested in its social connections programmes at at St John Hall, in Exe St, on April 14, between 9.30am and noon.