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South Leeds: Lifeline volunteer army is on frontline battling loneliness

Volunteer co-ordinator Ann Minke with volunteers at a get together at the Morley Elderly Action offices in Wesley Street, Morley.

Volunteer co-ordinator Ann Minke with volunteers at a get together at the Morley Elderly Action offices in Wesley Street, Morley.

Isolation is an overpowering fear for many thousands of people in Leeds and more specifically around 11,000 people in the Greater Morley area.

But a growing group of almost 70 selfless volunteers give hours of their time day in day out to give senior citizens in south Leeds vital interaction.

Morley Elderly Action (MEA), funded by Leeds City Council and donations, employs just five paid staff at its home in Wesley Street, Morley, and has been operating in the area for around 20 years.

But its volunteer “backbone” is considered a huge local lifeline to the ever-increasing population of over 60s.

Ann Minke started volunteering for the organisation around four years ago but now works there as an administrator, co-ordinating the volunteers and subsidised gardening services.

She said: “It’s phenomenal, you can’t put a price on it as if these people weren’t in here today and helping us like they do we wouldn’t exist – they are amazing.

“A lot of people want to give something back but you ask a lot of people here and they get a lot out of it back.”

Ann added that the rising cost of day centre services was adding to elderly isolation.

The organisation has around 1,200 members, who pay an annual subscription to help fund various coffee mornings, lunch clubs, trips, craft events and walking groups.

Audrey Gelder, 78, has volunteered at MEA for more than 18 years, through everything from making tea to trips.

Audrey, from Morley, said: “They all meet and sit at the same tables and it’s more for friendship than anything, it gets people out of their house.”

Retired Mavis Jordan, who only started volunteering there six months ago, said: “It’s something to do, you meet people and it’s enjoyable.”

Clarry Thornton, 83, has been helping out for seven years, and recently helped deliver hot meals to residents.

He said: “I enjoy meeting the people actually and the people we delivered to appreciated it, sometimes they will not see anybody else in the day.”

Volunteer receptionist Margery Kirk, 73, who lives alone in Churwell and works at MEA two and a half days a week, said: “I just needed to do something and help people.

“You get a buzz out of it as well – there are a lot of lonely people on the end of the telephone.”

The importance of MEA is summed up in a card of thanks on display that was sent in by a service user that prefers the acronym My Exhaustless Angels.

Carole Law, project manager of MEA, said: “We wouldn’t be able to run Morley Elderly Action without the volunteers – they cover all aspects of what we do.”

MEA helps people in Morley, Churwell, Drighlington, Gildersome, East Ardsley, West Ardsley, and Tingley.

For information call 0113 253 4484 or visit: www.morleyelderlyaction.org.uk

 

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