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Volunteers helping the elderly feel less alone

ALONE was founded over 35 years ago by Dublin fireman Willie Berming-ham.

During the cold winter of 1976, he found a number of older people dead in their homes. Joined by a small group of friends and colleagues, Willie distributed food, fuel and blankets to those older people suffering from cold, hunger, loneliness and isolation.

ALONE is an independent charity and works with the one in 10 older people who are at risk of homelessness, are socially isolated or vulnerable or in crisis.

All of its services are non-denominational and confidential. The charity doesn't receive any government funding for its day-to-day activities and relies solely on the generosity of the public to continue its work.

FRIENDSHIPS

ALONE provides supportive housing, befriending and community response to more than 300 older people on a weekly basis as well as a campaigning service to highlight issues affecting older people in need. Its services are delivered 365 days a year, and it operates with a ratio of one staff member to every 18 volunteers.

Fiona Begley is one such volunteer. She started last spring and visits two older people, Mary and Barry, for an hour each week.

"I love the friendships that have developed between myself and Mary and Barry," she says. "When I visit them I am greeted with open arms and a big smile! We usually enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit and catch up on the most recent gossip or things that have been happening in the world."

The Flora Women's Mini Marathon is the biggest fundraising event of the year for ALONE. Taking part helps raise essential funds to enable the charity to continue its services for older people who need them most. It also helps raise awareness of the organisation so people know that help is there.

All donations received from this year's event will go towards ALONE's housing support service, which provides a home for life for an older person who would otherwise be at risk of homelessness or living in dangerous, sub-standard housing conditions.

A donation of €20 could cover the cost of one of the volunteers visiting an older person, €50 could cover the cost of a toaster and kettle for an older person moving into an ALONE house, €100 could cover the cost of supplying and fitting a smoke alarm and €150 could cover the cost of a small kitchen table and two chairs.

Every cent counts.

> Brenda McCormack

For more information, see www.alone.ie


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