New Zealand: Police in toasted sandwich mercy dash

A toasted sandwich Image copyright Thinkstock

Police officers in New Zealand have delivered a toasted sandwich to a distressed elderly woman, it's been reported.

Far from being a trivial call-out, the mercy dash by officers based in the North Island town of Wanganui was in response to the news that the 90-year-old had not eaten for three days and was "distressed and desperate", the Wanganui Chronicle reports. The woman lived alone, had been unwell and had been unable to get food delivered, according to Sgt Colin Wright. "I don't know how many places or who she'd phoned. She had obviously tried a couple of fish and chip shops and probably there was nobody else to call," he tells the paper. A patrol picked up a sandwich from a local fish and chip shop and delivered it to the woman. Sgt Wright tells the paper it's the police's role to help the vulnerable, elderly and lonely in society. "We could even have gone back to the police station and cooked one up ourselves," he says.

Compared to other developed countries, elderly people in New Zealand are less likely to experience loneliness, a government study published in 2013 says. But one in three adults do feel isolated at some time in their lives, with 11% of older New Zealanders reporting loneliness. This compares favourably to the UK, dubbed the "loneliness capital of Europe" after an Office of National Statistics study in 2013 showed nearly half of over-80s described themselves as feeling alone.

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