As winter approaches, TV Licensing and Volunteer Now are encouraging people in Northern Ireland to volunteer their time by joining a social group, mentor programme, or sparing an hour each week to form a friendship over a shared interest.
Karen Grimason, spokesperson for TV Licensing in Northern Ireland said: “Over 75s consume more TV each day than any other age group, so the weekly TV schedule can provide a great opportunity for volunteers to share their favourite regular programme in the company of an older person, particularly as winter draws in and great TV seasons begin. Volunteer Now can help by matching up people wanting to help another person tackle loneliness and social isolation.
“Anyone aged 75 can claim a free TV Licence for their main address and over 105,000 people in Northern Ireland, and 4 million people across the UK, already enjoy the benefits of the concession.”
Lindsay Armstrong, Community Projects Manager for Volunteer Now said: "We run many services for older people in the community for example volunteer befriending. There are many different types of befriending, from group activities to chatting over the phone. In many cases volunteers tell us that television can be a great conversation starter and a way of finding common interests between generations.
"The fact that TV Licenses are free for people over 75 is a great help to many. Applying for one is easy to do and TV Licensing can help you apply over the phone, cutting down on paperwork.
"Throughout Northern Ireland, increasing numbers of older people are facing loneliness. Volunteering your time and befriending really can improve the quality of life for older people and strengthen our communities."
TV Licensing works with around 500 organisations across the UK to ensure those entitled to a concession know how to apply for it. Anyone 75 or older can apply for a TV Licence online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/over75info or call 0300 790 6073 for help with the application.
The free licence is not granted automatically so anybody who becomes eligible needs to make sure they apply. If you live with someone aged over 75, their free licence will cover all viewing in the property, meaning family and live-in carers could also benefit from the concession.