Volunteer makes sure that no one stays home alone

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REACHING OUT: Anne Migus and Father Shane Kelleher are fighting loneliness one friendship at a time.

REACHING OUT: Anne Migus and Father Shane Kelleher are fighting loneliness one friendship at a time.

You can see people swapping phone numbers and discussing different milestones in their families

Almost 16 years ago Anne Migus, a CatholicCare pastoral care volunteer, noticed that many of the people in her community were living alone or isolated from their neighbours.

She saw a need within her parish at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and decided she wanted to make a difference.

"I put a little note in the bulletin that said 'are you home alone and would you like to meet some other people who are home alone'," Ms Migus said.

"I then added that they should come up to the meeting room on a certain day and time. I was blown away when we had 34 people walk through the door.

"We just saw a need for people who may be alone at home to come together for some friendship, food and fun."

The members at that first meeting settled on the name Friendship Group and they have been meeting on the first Tuesday of the month ever since.

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With the support of parish priest Father Shane Kelleher, the group has people attend aged from 40 up to 93, and features people from a range of different cultures.

"I've only been in the parish seven or eight years, but Anne has been here from the beginning," Father Shane said. "It's always been a part of the parish life since I've been here."

Ms Migus said the connection between people and food had been a contributing factor to the group's success.

"If you have food somewhere, people can relax and talk more, and because we have all these people from different cultures, they bring lots of nice food from all over the world," she said.

"There is a lovely camaraderie there. You can see people swapping phone numbers and discussing different milestones in their families, such as new grandchildren or a family wedding.

"They will meet up somewhere, or invite others to coffee, or go on a picnic. If they don't have a car someone will pick them up."

The theme of National Volunteers Week 2019 is "Making a World of Difference", which is something that comes naturally to caring people like Ms Migus.

"You give of yourself and your time. What you're good at you give, and that has always stuck in my head," Ms Migus said.

This National Volunteers Week CatholicCare says thank you to all volunteers who make a world of difference to the lives of others.