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Ex-police officer and volunteer joins fight against elderly loneliness as Ealing Council back new campaign

An ex-police officer has spoken of the "rewarding" benefits of volunteering with the elderly

Mayor of Ealing Dr Cllr Patricia Walker (middle) and cabinet member for health and adults' services, Cllr Hitesh Tailor (right) with users of Neighbourly Care

A former police officer has highlighted the "rewarding" benefits of helping the elderly after Ealing Council threw its support behind a new campaign.

Karyn Decosta, who volunteers for Age UK Ealing’s telephone befriending service and Restore Plus Service, has urged people to get involved.

The former police officer calls a regular list of elderly people for a 30 minute chat in addition to visits.

Man who has slept in his car for three years praises Acton Homeless Concern for their help

She said: "It’s mentally satisfying and so rewarding.

"It’s very direct to hear someone be thankful for your call or visit and know that you’ve helped to brighten up their day.

"I always feel better after it.

"Some of my clients are entirely isolated and this is their opportunity to talk, have a laugh, or a moan or discuss a problem.

"It’s vital to a number of them and they’re very grateful.

"I would say the satisfaction I get from volunteering outweighs the time I give and would recommend it to anyone to get involved."

The council also works with Neighbourly Care, a charity helping the elderly, to tackle loneliness and isolation.

It gets funding from the council to offer activities to the elderly across 15 locations in the borough.

Ex-homeless Ealing man delivering two tonnes of supermarket food a week to charity

The council has chosen to back Good Morning Britain's 1 Million Minutes campaign urges people to volunteer their time to help an older person.

Through the ITV show's campaign, people are able to volunteer between 30 minutes on a one-off basis and regular weekly commitments.

Ealing Council has backed Good Morning Britain's campaign

Ealing’s cabinet member for public health and adults’ services, Cllr Hitesh Tailor, said: "Research shows that being lonely can have a huge impact on a person’s mental and physical health and make them more likely to visit their GP.

"Although the council and its partners are working all year round to provide activities and support so that people don’t feel so isolated, we recognise that Christmas and New Year can be especially difficult for some people which is why we are supporting the 1 Million Minutes campaign.

"Whether it is just checking on an elderly neighbour who you think may be lonely or making a regular commitment to volunteer, I would encourage people to think how they may help others and sign up to the campaign."

The GMB campaign is also led by charities including Age UK, Royal Voluntary Service, Campaign to End Loneliness and The Silver Line.

Karen Robinson, joint chief executive of Age UK Ealing, said: "Loneliness is something that exists for hundreds of people all year long.

"Organisations such as Age UK Ealing rely on volunteers who can regularly give their time throughout the year to call people and to visit them.

"Often these are the only friendly voices and faces that many people see or hear each week."
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