RETIREE Henry Milner has been calling strangers daily for several years just to check that they are okay.
The Burns Beach resident volunteers for Red Cross service Telecross, calling lonely and isolated people across Perth and other areas in WA, to check on their welfare.
He calls three people every morning and makes calls later in the day through the Telechat service that offers a more conversational call.
“Sometimes you are the only person who calls them and they don’t have any other contact for the day,” he said.
Mr Milner said it was incredible the people he “met” over the phone, with their ages ranging from 40 to late-90s.
The role also means he is responsible for making sure that people receive medical care they need if they do not respond to his calls.
Mr Milner started volunteering with the Red Cross emergency service in 2009, later joining the Telecross service as well.
The Red Cross is urging people to donate to its Doing it Tough appeal before June 30, with funds directed to help lonely Australians who are at risk of serious illness or injury and needing help in winter.
Chief executive Judy Slatyer said in 2015 the charity helped more than 20,000 Australians who were living alone.
“Our volunteers improve their lives and their health; calling lonely people every day to check they’re safe and ok,” she said.
“It’s not only isolated people who are doing it tough as the cold months set in.
“People of all ages and all walks of life experience loneliness but it’s the poorest who suffer most, including young homeless people and families who are struggling to make ends meet.
“Loneliness and isolation have a big impact on overall health and wellbeing, posing increased risks of heart attacks, depressed immune system, life-threatening cancers and depression.
“In this lucky country, where there are more phones than people and most adults use the internet daily, no one should feel lonely or isolated this winter.
“I urge you to make a donation to Red Cross before June 30 so we can help people get back on their feet.
“Your help means elderly Australians receive a reassuring daily phone call to help them stay safe, reduce loneliness and be independent at home.”
To donate, visit redcross.org.au/DoingItTough.