ASB celebrates its dedicated team of caring callers

In celebration of International Day for Older Persons, ASB is highlighting the work of its caring callers team.

For almost 10 years, ASB team members in partnership with St John have been part of the group, which offers a free phone service connecting elderly people who need a friend with those who have time for a daily chat.

ASB contact centre staff member Eugene Lok has been a caring caller for eight years and says it is an opportunity to serve and give back to the wider community.

"Making friendly conversation and connecting with a client you have not seen or met before is quite a natural and fulfilling fit with the contact centre environment. This is a worthwhile and enriching endeavour," Lok says

For Alison Cameron who works in ASB’s Manukau contact centre, being a caring caller has been an incredibly rewarding process and one she has enjoyed since the programme began at ASB in 2010.

"It feels good to give something that doesn’t cost anything except my time, and has so much value for the recipient," Cameron says.

"For me, it's a two-way friendship, and I look forward to each phone call which usually ends with such gratitude that I have taken the time to phone."

St John assigns people in need to a caller who will then contact them on a regular basis. Some callers have been in touch with the same person for years, and can call on a fortnightly, weekly or even daily basis depending on how often they want to be contacted, with calls ranging from a few minutes to an hour or so.

St John director of community health Sarah Manley says ASB's caring caller volunteers exemplify an inspiring altruistic spirit, providing clients with social connectedness, independence, and friendship.

"The incredible thing about the people who work at ASB is not only have they grown the number of caring callers supporting St John, they have also been throwing their support behind our annual appeal fundraising campaigns, ASB St John in Schools and other projects, all over and above their day jobs," Manley says. 

"I's fantastic having ASB working side-by-side with us to improve the lives of people throughout New Zealand, every day."

ASB sponsorship manager Shelley Dunmore says the initiative began as a way of keeping in touch with people in the local community who may otherwise feel isolated or alone.

"The programme is a way to help elderly people maintain their independence within their community, while also providing them with social support," Dunmore says.

"It's a big commitment. These people give up hours of their own time every week and some of them have been doing this for more than a decade."

The service is confidential so partners never meet, but often form lifelong friendships according to St John.

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