Glyndwr student helps project to tackle isolation among the elderly

A Wrexham Glyndwr University student is offering much-needed support and friendship to elderly people who are on their own during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sarah O’Brien, from Buckley, has signed up for Age Cymru’s Friend in Need telephone befriending service, which is aimed at over-70s who are self-isolating or who are in the shielded group.

The (BA) Hons Education with Childcare student was inspired to take part when senior lecturer Helen Coleman told her about the project, and how many people are alone across the country.

She said: “When I thought about how many times we check our phones throughout the day, and how many messages we get from people; and these elderly people are completely on their own and don’t hear from anyone - I really wanted to do it.”

Befrienders are matched up with a person and asked to engage in a weekly chat to alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness.

They usually call the same person each week at the same time, to provide a listening ear and monitor general well-being.

Sarah has been matched up with an 89 year-old lady named Myra, who loves to chat about her favourite television show, American mystery drama series Murder She Wrote.

She said: “One thing that stuck out to me when I got her profile was where it said ‘Next of Kin’ and next to it was ‘no-one’.
“I think it just hit me, the reality of someone being home alone. She sounded so fragile and she wasn’t very well."

Sarah hopes to persuade friends and family to sign up for the service.

“I just wish everyone would do it,” she said.

“It’s just ten minutes out of your week but for them, it’s such a huge thing to have someone to talk to.”