4 January 2010
BRCSchoolchildren in Wigan recently teamed up with the British Red Cross to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the organisation’s dawn patrol service – a pioneering initiative that involves young people regularly looking out for their elderly neighbours.
Children from Rose Bridge High and St Benedict’s RC schools joined service users and the Red Cross for a celebratory coffee morning on 11 December.
The Wigan-based service, funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund, helps vulnerable elderly people who live alone in the Wigan area. Each weekday morning, Red Cross staff call around 94 people to ensure they are safe, warm and well.
'Getting to know you’
As well as morning calls, the dawn patrol service also hosts coffee mornings for service users, volunteers and students from local schools. The coffee mornings give students and service users an opportunity to get to know each by other swapping stories about growing up, the community and their lives.
Nalini Patel, senior service manager, commented: “The dawn patrol makes sure that elderly people who are alone or vulnerable are given a call every weekday morning to check how they are. If there are any problems the Red Cross contact the relevant family member, service or organisation to make sure that the person is cared for in the best way possible.
“Over the past two years, we have made thousands of morning calls. And our volunteers really enjoy having a quick chat each morning with the service users who appreciate knowing that someone cares about their well-being.”
Celebrating two years
Helen Sharples, curriculum director at Rose Bridge High School, said: “The dawn patrol coffee mornings have been a fantastic way of involving students with a group of people they normally may have no opportunity to communicate with. They have learned lots about their community but also discovered they can talk to visitors of different ages and backgrounds. This makes the service users and the young people feel good about themselves.
She added: “Young people need to have a purpose and the dawn patrol has given some of our students that opportunity. This is a worthwhile service, which we are delighted to be involved with.”
Dawn patrol is always looking for new volunteers and schools to get involved with the service, as well as any donations of items suitable for raffle prizes for future coffee mornings. Please contact 01204 369 628 if you would like to get involved or if you can help.
Find out more about volunteering for the Red Cross and youth and school involvement.