WITH winter once again upon us, elderly people living in the North Cork area have been given a timely reminder of an innovative scheme aimed at addressing rural isolation.
Established five-years ago by the Avondhu Blackwater Partnership, the community Connect has proven to be hugely successful in allowing elderly people living in rural areas to interact with others through a structured set-up.
Project co-ordinator Mary Allen said the service offers advice on health and other issues of concern, a mobile handyman service and advice on home security.
"We provide more than just practical help and can often be the difference between independent living and supported living within retirement homes," said Mary.
"People have greater opportunity to live independently for longer in their own home when they are able to avail of services and supports," she added.
Mary cited the case of a woman who was diagnosed with MS shortly after the death of her husband, who was a keen gardener. Like many older women, she cannot drive and as she had no family was totally dependent on her neighbours.
"From her kitchen window she was constantly reminded of her late husband as she looked over overgrown hedges, flowerbeds and lawns. The walls of her house were growing shabby and needed washing and painting," said Mary.
Feeling depressed and isolated, teh woman eventually contacted Community Connect, a call that has completely turned her life around.
"She now receives regular contact through our befriending service and avails of our rural transport service to do her weekly shop and visit her GP," said Mary.
"Our handyman has been busy bringing her garden back to its former glory and although her husband is irreplaceable the regular visit by the handyman brings some much needed social contact and practical help," she added.
If you could use the services of the handyman or indeed if you would like to join the befriending service call Mary at Community Connect on 025 33411.