Meet Carmel and Frances

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Meet Carmel and Frances


COPE Galway Befriending Programme forms an important element of the organisation’s Senior Support Service. Volunteers are matched with older clients in their community to carry out regular home visits to help combat loneliness and isolation.

Frances has been visiting Carmel in her home for an hour each week for nine months now. The two of them have since built up a good rapport and speak about everything and anything.

“We haven’t had a fight yet,” Carmel jokes. Frances says volunteering has been “very rewarding” and would recommend anyone to sign up.

“You meet people you’d never normally meet in the comfort of their home. I feel there’s so much importance in bringing people back together, back to the community.”

Carmel is active – she enjoys listening to the radio, reading and knitting and has family nearby whom she can “hop on the bus and go and see”.

Carmel remarks, “Since Covid-19 we’ve been living life alone, afraid to go out. People got very down.” She says the Befriending Service has worked for her because she always likes meeting new people and has been enjoying Frances’ company.

The pair have a few things in common, including a love for yoga. Carmel is a regular at chair yoga sessions run by a COPE Galway volunteer.

It was Derval, Community Support Worker for Older People, who first suggested to Carmel she could sign up for COPE Galway’s Befriending Service.

Carmel’s housing estate is a residential area for older people which Derval supports. Carmel and Frances both agree they wouldn’t have crossed paths in Galway otherwise.

“I feel you’re always going to need to have young and old together to share and pass on different things,” said Frances. “It really rejuvenates the community.”

“Frances has taught me a lot,” says Carmel. Since they’ve met, Frances has been to South Africa, California and Spain. “She tells me about her travels – it’s very interesting.”

Frances agrees she is also learning a lot from Carmel, who grew up on a farm and shares with Frances what her family’s lifestyle was like and how it was for the children growing up.

Frances says she sees the value in going back to some of Carmel’s ways when she was young.

“I find it fascinating how I watch so much TV, whereas for Carmel it doesn’t come into her mind other than if there’s a certain programme she’s been meaning to watch – because she didn’t have a TV for a lot of her life,” said Frances.

“I think we all need to go back to simpler times.”

Carmel has been showing Frances an album of photos of her family and their home in Tuam, and the pair plan on taking a drive out together to pay a visit to the home where Carmel grew up.

The two of them are also thinking of places they could go for a coffee together during the summer evenings.

“Now the longer evenings are here, we’re making some plans.” said Carmel.

If you would like to volunteer as a Befriender or if you or someone you know would benefit from weekly company and a chat, please contact Noelle Jennings, Befriending Programme Coordinator at COPE Galway on 091 75 34 02.

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