Michael Egan has been visiting Jack Griffith every week for about a year since he was referred to Orange City Council's Community Visitors Scheme, which is designed to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation in the community.
The pair have bonded over shared interests and spend their time together chatting about current affairs as well as Mr Griffith's hobby of breeding birds or taking regular walks around the garden to check aviaries.
The Community Visitors Scheme arranges volunteers to visit older people to provide friendship and companionship and help develop social connections, with Mr Egan volunteering because he understands what it's like to be isolated.
I enjoy the visits from Michael because they are something to look forward to, they're something a bit different.Jack Griffith
He enjoys the social aspect too, as does Mr Griffith.
"I live on my own as well so it's great for me to get out. We talk about a whole range of things," Mr Egan said.
"It turns out we have a lot in common and have a lot of the same values," Mr Griffith said.
"I enjoy the visits from Michael because they are something to look forward to, they're something a bit different."
Feelings of isolation are common among the older generations for a number of reasons like little contact with friends and relatives, cultural differences, health problems or mobility issues restricting them from taking part in activities or even getting out of the house.
Orange mayor Reg Kidd said the scheme is about building community spirit and improving a person's quality of life - particularly considering the exacerbating factor of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It is important to support older people who may be feeling isolated or lonely, and that has become even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic," Cr Kidd said.
"Border closures mean many older people have been isolated from their families, while other restrictions have significantly reduced the amount of social contact and support older people have been able to receive."
Services Policy Committee chair, Councillor Scott Munro, said older people can refer themselves to the service, however the scheme also accepts referrals from service providers, family members and friends.
"A volunteer might accompany you for a walk around the garden or simply have a chat. The volunteers will adhere to social distancing rules in accordance with public health orders," he explained.
"Or if you don't feel up to a visitor in your home, you could receive a phone call, a video chat or a letter. The important thing is people are receiving support and staying connected with their community."
For more information on the Community Visitors Scheme, contact 6393 8600.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
HAVE YOUR SAY
- Send us a letter to the editor using the form below ...