A GROUP of 18 sixth-form students from St Ninian’s High School, Douglas, have completed a training programme with the Isle of Man Live at Home Schemes.
It means the volunteers, aged 16-17, are now qualified to visit an older person in the community for an hour a week for a cup of tea and a chat.
Visiting in pairs to members from North Douglas, South Douglas and Onchan Live at Home Schemes, it is hoped they will form a friendship and help relieve some of the lonelieness and isolation older people can feel.
North Douglas Live at Home Scheme manager Jo Dixon said: ‘As little as one hour a week can make a huge difference to someone’s life and can really relieve the loneliness someone can feel, especially at this time of year.’
The eight-week programme covered communication and effective listening, confidentiality and data protection, boundaries and body language, health and safety and risk assessment, first aid training with the British Red Cross and vulnerable adult training with Karen Winter of the Department of Social Care.
It follows the successful launch of the initiative last year, which saw 19 students from St Ninian’s complete the programme and start volunteering.
Jo said feedback showed that both the students and members involved had found the experience ‘very positive’.
And she described both sets of students as ‘fantastic’.
‘Student volunteers get to engage with someone in the community who is of a different generation,’ she said.
‘They get to improve their communication skills, particularly their listening skills.
‘And they get to learn about someone’s wonderful and varied life.’
The experience can also be included on UCAS and job application forms.
There are six regional Live at Home Schemes in the island which support more than 300 members.
They focus on reflecting the needs of the community in which they are based.
As well as befriending, services include assisted shopping, social groups and coffee afternoons.
Jo said: ‘Everything we do is about enhancing someone’s independence for people living in their own homes.
‘With the best will in the world, we want to live at home as long as possible, with the right level of support.’
Recruitment of volunteers of all ages is on-going.
Anyone interested in volunteering should call Jo Dixon on 373083 or email firstname.lastname@example.org