Avondhu Blackwater combats fallout of rural crisis The Irish Independent highlighted this week a growing crisis in rural Ireland. According to the Irish Independent, “almost 550 rural areas lost 10 percent of their population between 1991 and 2011 [and] almost 40 percent of this number have left since 2006.” These figures represent, by and large, younger adults. The older people who stay behind do so in conditions of greater isolation. The network that they once enjoyed, populated by local friends and family, is dwindling rapidly. Without these younger members of society older people are far too often left without any support system at all. Companies like Avondhu Blackwater Partnership, Fermoy, are striving hard to lessen the fallout. The company’s Community Connect programme, which targets isolated and lonely older members of society, provides social contact for people who otherwise would have none. The programme’s telephone befriending service goes a long way toward reversing the effects of mass rural emigration on those older citizens. Trained and experienced staff members engage in regular, over-the-phone chats on a variety of subjects (including, but not limited to, current affairs, gardening and family), giving clients a sense of being involved in the community. Avondhu Blackwater Partnership’s telephone befriending service, in addition to other Community Connect services – handyman, advocacy – is available throughout the the Blarney rural and urban areas. If you or someone you know would like a phone call from Community Connect, contact Mary 025 33411 / firstname.lastname@example.org.