Pleasant problem for visitor service

Visitor Service volunteer Emma Plant (right) enjoys one of her regular chats with Adrienne Penson...
Visitor Service volunteer Emma Plant (right) enjoys one of her regular chats with Adrienne Penson (left). Photo by Dan Hutchinson

In a twist on the usual theme, a surplus of volunteers at one Dunedin social agency means they are now looking for people who could use some company, rather than the other way around. The Star reporter DAN HUTCHINSON investigates a pleasing crisis.

Dunedin's generosity has reached critical levels at Age Concern with a surplus of volunteers and a shortage of people asking for help.

The Accredited Visitor Service provides volunteers with people in the city who would like a bit of extra company.

Age Concern Accredited Visitor Service co-ordinator Tristan Kavanagh said the service had been going for ''years and years and years'' but had now struck a unique problem.

''We are needing more clients because we have a massive influx of volunteers and we need some more clients. It is all the students coming forward and putting their hands up as volunteers.''

She said visitors could do anything from simply stopping by for a chat, going for a walk or other activities that they both wanted to do.

Chris Hibberd, also an AVS co-ordinator, said they knew there were lots of people ''out there'' who could benefit from a bit of extra company and they would be matched with the right person.

''We know there are a lot of people out there who are lonely and we know there are people out there who can help,'' Miss Hibberd said.

Miss Kavanagh said there were people who had ideas about what they wanted to do but might need help to get started. It might even be a matter of having someone to go shopping with.

Volunteers were not there to provide a taxi or housekeeping service and the idea was for both people to enjoy spending time together.

Mornington woman Adrienne Penson said she had children and grandchildren who visited her regularly but it was still nice to have another visitor - Emma Plant.

''We know just about everything about each other now,'' Mrs Penson said.

Miss Plant works at a Dunedin hair salon but comes to visit Mrs Penson about once a week and they sit and talk for a couple of hours or go for a walk.

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