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Keeping connected by a simple phone call


Two volunteers celebrate over three decades each of service, giving comfort and hope to older people living alone.

Friday July 28, 2017

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She knew that call would come in the morning and if she wasn't able to answer the phone, Red Cross would come looking for her.

It was an ad in the local newspaper back in 1983 that launched Noreen Molony and Michelle Hinwood, both from the NSW Central Coast, into a volunteer job that's lasted longer than many a paid job.  

The ad was calling for volunteers to join a Red Cross Telephone Club to phone elderly residents with the aim to keep them living at home but connected to the community.  

"I saw the ad in the paper and thought, that's exactly what we need," Michelle said.

As a Neighbourhood Watch volunteer she knew there were many elderly residents living alone who had no family nearby to check on them.  

Michelle signed up and was allocated her first client, an elderly gentleman she recalls fondly. In 1983, clients and volunteers made their daily calls, had a chat and invariably became friends. For Michelle this extended to being the person to make house calls, take clients to medical appointments, even organise funerals and the sale of homes.    

Today the service is known as Telecross with thousands of clients and volunteers across the country. The services range from a quick morning welfare check to a longer weekly social catch up.

For Noreen, the Telecross service plays such an important role in the safety and security of the people she phones. She tells the story of one client who was unable to lift herself out of the bath tub one night.  

"She knew that call would come in the morning and if she wasn't able to answer the phone, Red Cross would come looking for her," Noreen said.  

The client topped up the hot water through the night and the next day, as predicted her call went unanswered and help arrived.  

"She said she was quite calm knowing that help would arrive, but if she wasn't with Telecross, she'd have been panicked and tried to get out of the bath, with the risk of injuring herself," she said.  

For both, the value of the program is in keeping people safe, secure and connected in their own homes and communities. That's what keeps them making that daily phone call.  

"It's definitely a life-saver," Michelle said.  

To learn more about being a Telecross volunteer, and other life-changing Red Cross volunteer opportunities, visit www.redcross.org.au/volunteer

Michelle Hinwood and Noreen Molony have volunteered with Telecross for almost 70 years between them. Photo courtesy Central Coast Express Advocate
Michelle Hinwood and Noreen Molony have volunteered with Telecross for almost 70 years between them. Photo courtesy Central Coast Express Advocate
She knew that call would come in the morning and if she wasn't able to answer the phone, Red Cross would come looking for her.

It was an ad in the local newspaper back in 1983 that launched Noreen Molony and Michelle Hinwood, both from the NSW Central Coast, into a volunteer job that's lasted longer than many a paid job.  

The ad was calling for volunteers to join a Red Cross Telephone Club to phone elderly residents with the aim to keep them living at home but connected to the community.  

"I saw the ad in the paper and thought, that's exactly what we need," Michelle said.  

As a Neighbourhood Watch volunteer she knew there were many elderly residents living alone who had no family nearby to check on them.

Michelle signed up and was allocated her first client, an elderly gentleman she recalls fondly. In 1983, clients and volunteers made their daily calls, had a chat and invariably became friends. For Michelle this extended to being the person to make house calls, take clients to medical appointments, even organise funerals and the sale of homes.    

Today the service is known as Telecross with thousands of clients and volunteers across the country. The services range from a quick morning welfare check to a longer weekly social catch up.

For Noreen, the Telecross service plays such an important role in the safety and security of the people she phones. She tells the story of one client who was unable to lift herself out of the bath tub one night.  

"She knew that call would come in the morning and if she wasn't able to answer the phone, Red Cross would come looking for her," Noreen said.  

The client topped up the hot water through the night and the next day, as predicted her call went unanswered and help arrived.  

"She said she was quite calm knowing that help would arrive, but if she wasn't with Telecross, she'd have been panicked and tried to get out of the bath, with the risk of injuring herself," she said.  

For both, the value of the program is in keeping people safe, secure and connected in their own homes and communities. That's what keeps them making that daily phone call.  

To learn more about being a Telecross volunteer, and other life-changing Red Cross volunteer opportunities, visit www.redcross.org.au/volunteer