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Ken's Story

Published on 16 July 2021 11:10 AM

Meet Ken, a long-time supporter of Age NI. “Years ago I heard Linda Robinson on the radio talking about Age NI’s ‘Playing Your Part’ campaign, looking for volunteers and it got me thinking.

“Music is my main hobby, so I started doing singalongs at day centres and playing keyboard at fundraising events.”

It’s no surprise that Covid halted all of Ken’s usual volunteer activities, so when he was contacted about getting involved with Age NI’s Check In and Chat service, he jumped at the chance to volunteer in a different way.

Ken was matched with Mildred, who is 91 and lives alone. They started up a weekly call, gradually learning more about their shared interests.

Easy Chats

Ken said, “Initially I was cautious about saying the right thing and being sensitive to the new situation of lockdown, but now we can talk about anything – TV programmes, music, stories about family members. Mildred is so easy to talk to and has a fantastic sense of humour. She appreciates my calls because I always have something new to say.”

Ken received volunteer training from a Check In and Chat coordinator, including signposting training to be able to refer Mildred to other Age NI services if she ever needs them.

Volunteers: Just Do It

Giving advice to potential Check In and Chat volunteers, Ken says: “Just do it. It is such a worthwhile service, especially for people on their own who may not have family nearby. This call can be a highlight of their week.”

One year into Check In and Chat, Ken and Mildred have consistently kept up a weekly conversation. While society starts to get back to normal, this companionship which developed during lockdown will have a positive impact on both Ken and Mildred. Ken said, “People like Mildred are an inspiration to me. She doesn’t let everything get her down. A year on, I’m still just as enthused to chat with her.”

Thank you Ken and all our Check In and Chat volunteers.

We need your help to train and support more volunteers like Ken, so that we can provide friendship calls to break the loneliness for more older people. Sadly, even as life returns to normal, isolation is a way of life for many of the 80,000 older people who live alone in Northern Ireland.

To donate to our Check In and Chat appeal visit our appeal page


Last updated: Jul 04 2023

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