Creating Links and Friendships within the Elderly Community

By PSS | Posted: Wednesday December 20, 2017

Almost every week for the past eight years, Heather Fennessy has popped in to see Daphne Wallis.

At a practical level, Heather volunteers for SupportLink – a free Enliven service that matches volunteers with elderly members of the community who are looking for regular company or support – and Daphne is a SupportLink client.

While that was how the relationship started, in real terms, the two are now firm friends and thoroughly look forward to their weekly catch ups.

The pair enjoy a range of activities, from visits to Dolamore Park to playing scrabble, and talking gardening and knitting. They are also regular attendees at the SupportLink Gore 60+ Coffee Club.

Heather says she signed up as a SupportLink volunteer after hearing a speaker at an event.

“She was looking for more volunteers, so I got in touch. My husband had passed away, I had moved from Central Otago to Gore and had some time on my hands. I had received support from the Central Otago community in the past and just really wanted to give something back … Eight years later I’m still here!”
“Volunteering does give you a sense of satisfaction, but I think I enjoy the company as much as Daphne does. With us both being keen gardeners, we often exchange plants and other bits and pieces.”

For Daphne, the regular company is something she enjoys immensely.

“Just knowing there is somebody I can call on, someone who will visit, that’s lovely,” she said.

SupportLink operates in Gore, Invercargill and the Wakatipu Basin.

SupportLink Gore Co-ordinator Patricia Officer Young says volunteers are ideally expected to spend an hour a week with the person they are matched with, and what they do and when is completely up to them to decide.

“It is not a home help service, it’s about providing company, and maybe some assistance with tasks such as grocery shopping or transport to appointments,” she said.
“I’ll introduce the volunteer and the client, and then it’s up to them to determine when they will meet and what they will do.”
“It’s a really lovely community service… while the relationship starts as volunteer and client, they always become really good friends.”

Get Involved

If you are interested in receiving support from SupportLink, or would like to volunteer, please contact Gore SupportLink Coordinator Patricia Officer Young on or phone 03 208 9440.

Note that SupportLink is a volunteer-based service and is free for elderly members of the community to access.

CLICK HERE to find out more about SupportLink