ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, is celebrating having its 1,000th volunteer come on board.
ALONE volunteers undertake over 35,000 visits to older people every year, providing both practical and emotional support. They also provide support over the phone, help out at various events and help with administration.
"After 40 years of service, we are delighted to be taking our 1,000th volunteer on board. ALONE began as a small organisation in Dublin run by 30 volunteers. Today, we have 1,000 volunteers and we help thousands of people across the country every year.
"Over the coming years, we plan to increase this number to 9,000 volunteers in order to meet the increasing demand for befriending and support," explained ALONE CEO, Seán Moynihan.
The charity is highlighting the importance of volunteers to coincide with National Volunteering Week, which runs from May 14-20. It is calling on people to consider getting involved ‘in something bigger than themselves'.
"As our population ages, volunteers will be more vital than ever to help to combat loneliness," Mr Moynihan noted.
ALONE's 1,000th volunteer is Josephine Lennon from Malahide in Dublin. She explained that following a cancer diagnosis in 2014, she had to stop working.
"There was a question about what I was going to do with my time, because I have lots to contribute. ALONE kept coming back as something I wanted to do. Loneliness is a common experience for people who have cancer. It made me really value friendship," she said.
She added that with volunteering, ‘you get so much more back than you give'.
"It's very rewarding. It gives you a real purpose and it helps you make a difference," she noted.
Mr Moynihan emphasised that ALONE would not be here without the dedication of its volunteers ‘who allow us to help so many people each week'.
"What is so special about volunteering is the benefits to both involved, particularly the relationship between the befriending volunteer and older person. Volunteering is good for you - it keeps you active, builds communities, and can change your life," he added.
ALONE is always looking for more volunteers to expand its services and reach more people in need of assistance. For more information on volunteering, click here
*Pictured is Josephine Lennon being presented with a certificate by ALONE's longest running volunteer (36 years), Máire Ní Bháin