On Tuesday, the eve of the International Day of Older Persons, the Belgian Red Cross announced that it is seeking over one hundred volunteers mainly in the provinces of Hainaut, Namur and Walloon Brabant to pay visits to the elderly. Volunteers are most needed in Hainaut, where the Red Cross is seeking 50 volunteers. Thirty volunteers are needed in Namur as well as in Walloon Brabant.
The numbers of requests for visits are increasing and in some places volunteers are no longer able to meet the demand. “These seniors do need to be placed in nursing homes but find themselves at home alone for long periods of time,” said Nancy Ferroni, Press Secretary to the Red Cross.
An urgent appeal has been launched to anyone over 18 who would have two hours a week or every two weeks to spend visiting an elderly person. The main qualities required are hospitality and the ability to listen. The Red Cross will provide training and support and will also help with travel expenses.
Six years ago, the Red Cross developed the “Hestia” project. This project, named after the Greek goddess of the hearth, was designed to make home visits to elderly people living alone. In 2013, the Red Cross made 11,000 visits to the elderly.
In the developed world, one in four elderly people live alone. Currently there are 600,000 elderly people aged 65 and over living in Wallonia. In the next 20 years the number will have increased to 900,000.