Celebrating ten years of support and care for elderly residents

Patricia McCready, Volunteer Susan Gillander and Norma Lappin looking the part at the Good Morning Larne 10th Birthday Party. INLT 47-200-AM
Patricia McCready, Volunteer Susan Gillander and Norma Lappin looking the part at the Good Morning Larne 10th Birthday Party. INLT 47-200-AM

Good Morning Larne makes 12,000 calls a year to elderly residents in the town by a team of 11 dedicated volunteers.

Their contribution was recognised at a tenth anniversary presentation at Larne Town Hall recently.

Volunteers were joined by

Her Majesty’s Deputy Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, Liam Kelly, actress Olivia Nash and John Ritchie.

Also in attendance were 24 of the original clients.

Good Morning Larne, a local charity, is a free befriending, support and alert telephone service that has been supporting local older people from Larne Community Care Centre for the past decade.

Co-ordinator Barbara Ann Gilchrist said: “Throughout our ten years, we have increased the service level of support from two days a week to five days a week, and we continue to increase the numbers of clients we support.

“To facilitate this growth we have had to recruit more volunteers and we are tremendously lucky to be currently supported by a dedicated team of 11 people.

“We have been supported over the years by Larne PSCP, Northern Health and Social Care Trust, and we currently receive our core funding from Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership, Big Lottery and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council with additional funding support from North Antrim Community Network, Asda Larne and The Big Lottery.

“We continue to search for new core funders to help sustain our service.”

Good Morning Larne was established after the care centre manager Lucinda McFall was asked to set up a steering group amd co-ordinator Matt Ritchie was appointed.

“With his consideration for others in his community, he drove the project forward, promoting the service, recruiting volunteers to help deliver the service and registering clients to benefit from the service.

“They wanted to offer friendship on the phone to everyone. They wanted to offer befriending visits to those who maybe hadn’t had a visitor for days, or weeks, or even longer.

“They wanted to encourage older people to stay connected with each other and they offered social activities for them to do so. “

Barbara Ann paid tribute to a number of individuals who have supported the delivery of the service

As I said, the service needed help. They needed volunteers. They needed people who didn’t just care, but people who cared enough to help others. People who cared enough to devote their time, every week. How lucky was Good Morning Larne to have found Rita Hawthorn and her husband Jim.

Rita has cared enough to devote her time, every week, for 10 years. Rita has a wonderful fun personality, and she has brought joy to so many people on the phone. I have seen her joke and laugh and sing with clients on the calls, but I have also seen her comfort and pray with them too. Your love knows no bounds.

Jim, Rita’s long suffering husband (only joking) has supported Rita and Good Morning Larne for these ten years too. Always willing to do whatever was asked of him. Bringing Rita to the centre for the telephones, taking Rita to visit clients at home and at hospital, collecting clients for medical appointments or for social outings, as well as delivering our fruit baskets, or gifts or emergency food parcels. You are a true gentleman.

I am only a runner in, being Co Ordinator for 3 ½ years, but I could not have asked for any better people to learn from. Thank you for being very generous to me with your patience, time, and support and I am forever grateful.

Good Morning Larne is very lucky to have 24 of our original clients here today. Can I say to you that we have all loved becoming your friends.

Throughout our 10 years, we have increased the service level of support from 2 days a week to 5 days a week, and we continue to increase the numbers of clients we support. To facilitate this growth we have had to recruit more volunteers and we are tremendously lucky to be currently supported by a dedicated team of 11 people. These 11 people are making on average 1,000 calls per month. = 120,000 - supportive – sympathetic –helpful – understanding - friendship and fun telephone calls made over our 10 years!

Plus through a special Asda Birthday grant last year we successfully relocated our volunteer operations room to a ground floor, mobility friendly unit, allowing us to offer a more inclusive space to volunteer in, as well as the facility to host client coffee mornings and lunches.

We have been supported over the years from Larne PSCP, Northern Health and Social Care Trust, and we currently receive our core funding from Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership, Big Lottery and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. Unfortunately this is due to end next year, but we continue to search for new core funders to help sustain our service.

Today would not have been possible without additional funding support. We have three funders to thank for this event, North Antrim Community Network, Asda Larne and The Big Lottery.

We first secured funding from North Antrim Community Network, to host an information lunch, for us to promote positive mental health strategies and advice to our clients. We are pleased to be joined by Cruise Bereavement Councillors, Eleanor and John. They have information on their service and are here to talk to anyone who would like to find out more, offering help to you or your family and friends. In your goody bags that you each will receive there is also information on the Carers Registry and what benefits they can offer you or your family, as well as information from the local health care service providers.

We continue to receive enormous support from ASDA Larne, and we secured further funding from their Local Impact Fund to help host todays lunch event. Their funding has helped us host it here in this wonderful venue, the Town Hall, and to offer it to even more clients and friends. Thank you to the manager Niall Keys, for his support and for allowing the Community Champion Catherine McCallion to volunteer with us weekly, and Catherine for your commitment to our service.

Larne Community Care Centre then secured additional funding from the Big Lottery Celebration fund, which allowed us to go all out and give our clients a real treat, with the music band, the promotional materials, even the decorations. Special thanks to newest volunteer Susan Gillanders for making all the room and table decorations for today.

So as part of our Promoting Good Mental Health Strategies, we wanted to help everyone remember the good old times, that’s why we came up with the 1940s theme, and I would now like to hand you over to Liam Kelly, John Ritchie and Olivia Nash to take you down Larnes Memory Lane,

North antrim community network