Omagh's Mona provides a friendly listening ear to through Telephone Befriending Service

FOR many people, a Monday can be the most difficult day of the week but for Omagh Volunteer Centre's (OVC) Mona Bunting and the many who benefit from her supportive phone calls, it can be the most uplifting.

Mona is a member of OVC's Telephone Befriending Service which has supported thousands of older people in the community since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since March of last year, the Befriending Service team has made well over 6,000 calls to the elderly living in Omagh, Strabane and Fermanagh.

"I speak to the elderly, people who are on their own or are vulnerable," explained Mona, who has recently retired.

"I had seen an advert for volunteers somewhere and I had always wanted to help out with a service like this."

It is an experience that has benefited Mona as much as the many friends she has made along the way.

"From my point of view, I have really enjoyed it and I have certainly become friends with the people I chat with. Although I have never met them, it feels like I know them personally."

Mona admits she has grown close to many of the people she helps.

"Once you get to know them, it's great. We chat about many things, including family life, illnesses and even recipes! And it's not like we're strangers at all. I miss them on the days we don't talk."

At the height of the pandemic, Mona could have called up to 10 of her friends in just one day.

"People were really feeling isolated during the pandemic," she explained.

Mona would certainly recommend others to consider volunteering if they have the time to do so.

"We're always looking for volunteers to help out," she said.

"I don't know of any volunteer who doesn't enjoy it because you just get so much out of it. Unless you have to give it up, I don't think you would want to."

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