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OAPs Going Postal To Get New Friends

Deutsche Post - Gemany's postal service - is planning to give its postmen new jobs as community service workers.

In a pilot project to run for six months, postmen in the Ruhr Valley are expected to engage with the elderly and infirm who pay for the privilege. The scheme has been dubbed 'Personal Post' by post service managers.

It comes at a cost and has brought criticism from many who say it was making the poorest in the community pay for something that postmen did anyway. Just how many people will be willing to pay to chat with a relative stranger remains to be seen.

"We hope to tap into a new business sector", a spokesman said.

Beate Linz, Head of the "Leben im Alter" section of the welfare office in Dusseldorf welcomes the idea of postmen taking time out to befriend their elderly, and often lonely, customers. She said: "There are many elderly people who are lacking social contact."

But experts and trades unionists are not so sure. "Principally we are in favour of the Post offering services which create revenue and secure jobs," said a postal union spokesman.

"Yet we fear that the additional duties will put more strain on postmen who already work under often unrealistic schedules."

The service is to be offered for the first time from 1st July in cooperation with the "biggest care provider in the country", the Johanniter-Unfallhilfe.

The pilot project means that on the days the service is offered - Tue to Fri with an extra cost for Saturdays - posties will ring door bells to chat with selected customers.

Visitations between Tuesdays and Fridays are on offer or additionally on Saturday priced at 37,50 Euro or 42,50 Euro per month.

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