'Good morning' for Letterkenny people
The Good Morning Service, a free telephone link service for older people, is expanding into the Letterkenny area and looking for volunteers and people who are interested in receiving the service.
"The primary reason for the call is to make sure they're safe and well and they're home," said Frances Browne, project co-ordinator. The service began operating last September from the Lifford-Clonleigh Resource Centre, joining services already operating out of Pobal Le Cheile in Falcarragh and the Donegal Family Resource Centre in Donegal Town.
The Letterkenny-area service is expected to start from Cara House in Letterkenny in the coming weeks. Volunteers will receive full training and will also require Garda clearance, which the service will organise. Volunteers should be able to converse and communicate, and a little bit of computer knowledge would be helpful.
"It's not very complicated what we do, but a little bit of computer knowledge helps," Frances said.
The confidential service is available free to anyone over age 65 who lives alone. Many people request a phone call one day a week, though some ask for calls up to five days a week. The Letterkenny-based service will reach as far as Churchill, Ramelton and Kilmacrennan.
Good Morning calls are made at a pre-arranged time, and if the call goes unanswered volunteers ring a designated contact and ask them to check on the client. If they cannot reach the contact, the volunteer will ring a neighbour, family member or health or emergency personnel to check.
"I think it will be useful," said Susan McCauley of Cara House. "If we start it now, by next winter when the weather is bad it should be very well in place." The service proved very valuable during the winter freeze, when severe weather left many people isolated and vulnerable.
The service, funded by the Health Service Executive, began in Inishowen as a pilot programme delivered by the Voice of Older People. The programme was developed in response to research they carried out in the county on services for older people which found that isolation and loneliness was a key issue. They now have 311 clients across the county and about 88 volunteers.
"It's a very simple service, but it makes such a huge difference to a lot of people," Frances said, adding, "Volunteers get as much out of it as our clients do. They find it very fulfilling and rewarding."
Anyone interested in being a volunteer in Letterkenny or obtaining the service can call Frances at 074 9321598, or Susan at Cara House, 074 9123986.