By Victoria Stone-Meadows
A group of Cranbourne seniors have taken charge of the safety of senior citizens across Casey by manning the phones of the Cranbourne Senior Citizens Register at the Cranbourne police station.
Yvonne Hempston and Corol Saggers are among about 10 volunteers who have taken on the responsibility of checking in on about 650 senior citizens in the City of Casey.
Ms Hempston and Ms Saggers have been running the senior citizens register since 2009 and said it was one of the best initiatives they have ever worked on.
“I was looking for something to do after I retired because I had got into a rut at home,” Ms Hempston said.
“So l looked at what was available on the council volunteer list, found out about the register, rang up Ian Lane at the police station and he said to come in, and it just went from there.”
The volunteers of the Senior Citizens Register spend their volunteering time calling registered senior citizens in the area to check on their welfare and provide a friendly chat.
“We keep a check on them and if we can’t contact them we contact the next of kin or emergency contact for that person, and if we can’t contact them, we send the police out to welfare check,” Ms Hempston said.
About a week after Ms Hempston joined the register as a volunteer, Ms Saggers joined up as well.
“I saw it advertised and just decided to join,” Ms Saggers said.
“I find a lot of seniors talk to us instead of their family and it gives them a chance to really open up because everything is confidential.”
“We really enjoy it.”
Both Ms Saggers and Ms Hempston agreed that while it can be terribly sad speaking to a person whose family doesn’t visit them, it can also be incredibly enriching.
“A lot of the time, their families don’t want to know them, even though if it wasn’t for this person, the whole family wouldn’t be there,” Ms Saggers said.
“They tend to be the forgotten people which is a shame because the stories you hear are incredible – some of our people are so knowledgeable.”
As well as calling the members of the register, the Cranbourne Senior Citizens Register also take outings and trips together.
The outings and trips provide a way to see and experience new things for those who may not be able to otherwise.
The group has recently visited Coolart Wetlands and Homestead on the Mornington Peninsula and have a trip planned to Arthur’s Seat.
Ms Hempston said the volunteers on the register find the program just as rewarding as those that are on the other side.
“We get as much out of it as our seniors do,” she said.
“It is a pleasure hearing their happy voices.
“Just having that contact improves wellbeing and we love putting out our newsletter that has details about the trip and when the new one will be organised.”
The Cranbourne Senior Citizens Register is free to join for people over the age of 55 by registering online or calling 5991 0625.