'I picked up the phone and I'm so glad I did because life is better'
Brendan Creane (69), from Kilbarrack in North Dublin, has cerebral palsy and grew up in State care.
He defied the odds to go on to gain qualifications and, in recent years, present a local radio show on disability awareness. This success came despite not being able to read or write.
But, as he got older, Brendan found he was becoming more and more isolated in his own home.
"There isn't a community out there anymore," Brendan told the Herald.
"I don't have a family but I think the children forget their older parents, they lose contact with them and that's why there's so many older people on their own.
"I think a lot of older people are afraid too. The world has changed so much and they don't know who to trust anymore.
"I lived in another area of Dublin before and a car was set on fire outside my house. Something like that is pretty scary.
"I didn't know how to get involved with the community," Brendan added.
"It took me so long to get out of the way I was, I'd been institutionalised. But, one day, I said enough is enough. I already knew about the charity Alone from my days on radio.
"I just picked up the phone and I'm so glad I did because my life is so different now."
Alone matched Brendan with a young volunteer through its befriending service. And, for the first time in years, Brendan wasn't alone at Christmas.
"Aaron [the volunteer] came round to the house with his family on Christmas Day," he said. "That was the first time I've ever seen children playing and having fun in this house.
"It was just wonderful. Aaron's wife made me prawns for dinner and I'd never tasted them before.
"It was just absolutely brilliant to have them here."
The charity checks in on Brendan once a week and Aaron spends 90 minutes weekly with his new friend.
Brendan's life has transformed from sitting on his own and watching the world go by from his window to being a man who's out and about.
"I know it can't be easy for some older people to make that call and ask for help, but it's so important they do," he said.
"I always loved people and getting about and doing things. Now I have so much more confidence. I am doing a course at the Adult Education Centre in Kilbarrack and I love it. I've made friends too."