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Pat's Story

Published on 25 July 2021 11:00 PM

Until last spring, 78-year-old Pat’s weekly social schedule was a busy one, packed with friends and family: “Craft day was Tuesday, I would see friends there. I would go to church and out for lunch with people after, and I would always have seen my sister at the weekend.”

However, when lockdown started, Pat couldn’t take a taxi to see friends or to do her shopping, and she suddenly found herself housebound.

In order to stay safe, Pat was also unable to see her daughter, who works in a hospital so could only leave food and messages at the door.

To make matters worse, Pat’s plans to visit her son in the United States were also halted. She said, “I like travelling because you meet new people. My last trip to America was postponed because I had a bad fall, then Covid hit, so now I haven’t visited since September 2019. I usually go over a few times a year and it’s nice to go and be looked after and taken care of. It’s been a very long time.”

For social bee Pat, the combined impact of all of this was huge: “There was nobody here, it was only me, and I couldn’t go anywhere. The whole rhythm of my life changed.” 

Pat learned about Age NI, and having volunteered for similar organisations in the past, she thought she might benefit from having a call from a Check In and Chat volunteer herself. She took the plunge: “I must have been brave one day, because I rang them up and asked to be set up with a match. I didn’t have a lot of company and Covid had left me stranded.”

Age NI introduced Pat to 27-year-old Natalie, an American living in Belfast. “Because she’s from America, chatting with her makes me feel closer to my son. At first I thought, what would she want with someone like me as a young person, but now she feels more like a friend than a stranger. It’s different from talking to my family, I’m hearing a new perspective.”

Looking forward, Pat hopes to make it to America to visit her son soon, but in the meantime, she is relying on Check In and Chat to keep her connected.

Pat said, “Although things are opening up, I’ve only been out of my house maybe six times in the last year. Check In and Chat brings back that personal connection we’re all missing since we don’t get to meet anyone new. The world isn’t so narrow when you have someone else to talk to.”

Make a gift today to the Check In and Chat Appeal to bring the power of a friendly phone call to isolated older people like Pat.


We need your help to train and support more volunteers, so that we can provide friendship calls to break the loneliness for more older people like Pat. 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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