A new service that aims to reconnect the elderly and isolated with their own community was launched by Minister Joan Burton last Thursday evening in Allenwood.
Called Good Morning Kildare, the free service involves receiving a daily phonecall from a trained caller.
The aim of the service is to reduce the feelings of isolation and loneliness experienced by those over 55 years of age.
Anyone over the age of 55 can sign up to receive a daily phonecall. They can stipulate what time of the day the call comes at.
The service is supported by the HSE and local sponsors.
As well as a general enquiry as to their well being, the calls are intended to reduce feelings of isolation.
Callers can also help those they call with issues such as medication and appointments.
Commenting on the launch, the Mayor Spike Nolan noted that one of the downsides of our recent economic boom was that people lost touch with their neighbours. He saw the service as redressing this.
The service is also seen as particularly good for someone who may be caring for somebody with dementia, as an outlet for conversation and support.
Maurice Musgrave of Allen Area Community Employment spoke of the importance of the service.
“When I told my beautiful family about this new service, they suggested that, being over 55, I was eligible for the service!”
Deirdre Moran, the local FAS supervisor also spoke at the launch in the Michael Fitzpatrick Centre in Allenwood and explained how the germ of an idea developed into the new service.
Minister Joan Burton said it was lovely to be visiting Allenwood again. She said she was committed to supporting programmes such as this one and was hoping to maintain all CE schemes, notwithstanding the economic downturn, because of the immense social dividend from them.
“I think you’ve done splendidly here,” she said.
“I hope I’ve kept my side of the bargain, because you certainly did,” she told the clearly appreciative audience.
She spoke of the unexpected benefits from schemes like it. “I know people are concerned about security issues,” and emphasised the “strong level of community connection”.
I hope it will be successful. I expect it will.
“Social protection is not just about income support. It’s also about building and supporting communities,” she said.
She concluded by noting that she “delighted to Michael Fitzpatrick’s name on the centre”. She recalled him as a “very good colleague in the Dail”.
“We’ve come through Celtic Tiger and we didn’t always harness it properly.”
The Minister concluded the launching ceremony with the first phonecall of the service, to Stephen Kinsella, a well known community activist from Coill Dubh, a man, Maurice Musgrave said “had given a life of service to the people of his area.”
To sign up, contact 045-870268.
- Conor McHugh