Friends of the Elderly was established in Dublin in 1980. We began with just a handful of Irish and French volunteers coming together and have now grown to over 300 volunteers reaching out to more than 500 older members.
As we age we hope to have sufficient supports in place, but those who don’t are at greatest risk of becoming lonely and isolated. Friends of the Elderly continue the mission of our founding volunteers by bringing friendship and social engagement to enhance the lives of our older members through various programmes.
We are affiliated with “Les petits freres des Pauvres” or ”The Little Brothers of the Poor”, which was founded by Armand Maquiset in 1946. In the aftermath of World War II, Armand Marquiset became acutely aware of the plight of the elderly in France. Many had lost their families, their homes and their livelihood and had nowhere to turn. He began Little Brothers to care for these people. Armand would often say “The greatest poverty, is the poverty of love,” which was reflected in the motto, “flowers before bread.”
Today the work of Armard Marquiset can be found throughout France, Spain, Germany, Poland, Mexico, Romania, USA, Canada and Ireland. La Fédération Internationale des petits frères des Pauvres (The International Federation of Little Brothers of the Poor) unifies and represents internationally all offices under the “Les Petits Frères” umbrella. Each office carries out the fight against loneliness and isolation among older people in its region.
The connection Armand Marquiset had with Ireland goes beyond the organisation. He loved Ireland so much he retired here in 1973. He died on the 14th of July 1981 and is buried on Cruit Island, Co. Donegal. However he witnessed the formation of the organisation in Ireland and visited Friends of the Elderly in Dublin in the February before he died.