Causeway Chronicle

Older People’s Charity asks:  Can you help a lonely Older person this year?

A leading Belfast Older People’s Charity is launching a drive for Engage With Age charity for volunteers to help vulnerable older people through Befriending (Phoning them once per week)  and running group activities.

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Older People’s Charity asks:  Can you help a lonely Older person this year?

Leading Belfast based charity, Engage with Age is asking for volunteers throughout Northern Ireland to help with key projects, working with older people who are experiencing loneliness this new year, by offering as little as one hour per week of their time to help brighten the lives of lonely older people.

Loneliness has been identified as a growing problem for older people.  Studies show that loneliness not only affects a person’s mental health, but their physical health too.  One study states that loneliness has the same physical impact as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.  Many older people report not having anyone to speak with during the week.  During the last few years there was an increase of 300% in the numbers of older people contacting the Belfast Health Trust because of the ill effects of loneliness.

Volunteers are needed to help Engage with Age to run activities and to undertake telephone befriending.  Activity groups include walking groups, games groups and coffee mornings, all of which help older people get out and about more.  Volunteer Telephone Befrienders are needed to make weekly calls to cheer up the lives of isolated older people who don’t have anyone to talk with.

Hazel Thompson is a volunteer helping to run the Engage with Age dance group which meets every Friday.  Hazel says:  “Volunteering for the group just makes me feel good. I like that other people get good enjoyment out of it.”

Alan Dawson, who volunteers to run a walking group, says:

Why not give volunteering a go. In my case I help organise a walking group. We have a walk, have a talk, have a cuppa and make new friends. I get a lot out of giving a bit of my time on a weekly basis. What’s not to like!” 

Audrey, who is in her 80s, benefits from telephone befriending.  She is living alone after her husband had to go in to nursing care.  Audrey says:

“It was really hard to lose my independence… The calls encourage me and I love to hear from my Befriender and I always feel better after the call.”

Activity Group volunteering takes place on weekdays during the day, and Telephone Befriending takes place at times that suit both volunteers making the calls and the older people who get them.  All volunteers are trained and supported by Engage with Age staff.

If you think you can spare a bit of time every week, please contact Engage with Age on 028 9074 5696, or email

Visit our website for more details:

Michael Anderson

Michael Anderson