Martina Brennan is the Coordinator of the Friendly Call Service in Moylough, Co. Sligo. This National Volunteering Week, we chatted to Martina about the importance of the service, what she gets out of it and why volunteers are so important.
Martina has been the Coordinator of the Friendly Call Service since it was established in 2011. The service provides regular ‘friendly calls’ to elderly people living alone or in isolation in the local area. Although Martina is employed by Sligo Leader, she volunteers even more hours beyond her contract to make sure no-one is left behind.
According to Martina, the service is vital for those that use it. “For some people, the phone call might be the only interaction they have all week.” The service was originally set up with the idea of making calls to people once a week but since the onset of COVID-19 that has all changed.
“As soon as the pandemic began, I asked people if they’d like to be called more often than once a week. Now I phone 25 people each day. We talk about whatever they want – the weather, television, even the pandemic”. The most important aspect, Martina points out, is that it’s only a chat – she doesn’t ask any personal questions or give any advice.
I ask Martina what she gets out of it and the answer was clear – quite a lot! “I’m a really sociable person and I like talking to people. Some days you can wake up in a bad mood but making these calls always cheers me up – it does you the world of good! Older people have lots to give and it’s wonderful to hear their stories, especially about the history of the local area”.
Martina will be retiring in November but hopes to still give some time volunteering to the service. Sligo Volunteer Centre are currently recruiting volunteers to support the service here.