PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 November, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 November, 1999, 12:00am

Factory owner Choi Lin-chu jumped at the chance of becoming an 'Elder Ring' counsellor - but has found the task harder than she expected.

Since undergoing training, she spends two hours each week at the hotline centre in Lok Fu, taking calls from elderly people in need.

Ms Choi said the job was a lot harder than she expected.

'It is completely different from talking to the old folks at home, where you can be more open in your views. Here, there are areas you always have to avoid in order not to offend the callers,' she said.

'We will not discuss matters which carry a materialistic agenda. Instead, our conversations often centre on things in general such as health, weather and their friends.' Centre supervisor Wong Yuk-mui said a de-briefing session was held for volunteers immediately at the end of their shifts to evaluate their performance for the day.

'Although we tend to recruit volunteers who have a positive outlook, there is the danger that they will feel depressed and emotionally affected by what they have heard,' she said.

The service is maintained by public donations.