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Good Neighbour Schemes can make a huge difference at Christmas

Community Action Suffolk is aiming to reduce the loneliness and isolation experienced by many in Suffolk, by developing existing Good Neighbour Schemes and creating new ones.

CAS has received funding from the Big Lottery Fund and aims to increase the number of schemes in the county. Suffolk is fortunate to have 29 Good Neighbour Schemes already operating around the county. Their volunteers offer a helping hand to others in their local community.

Good Neighbour Schemes create a spirit of neighbourliness, bringing communities together. They also help lessen the impact on a community caused by the decline in services such as public transport, shops, Post Offices, doctor’s surgeries and pubs. Each scheme is different, but often include volunteers carrying out simple tasks, such as grass cutting, light bulb changing, transport assistance, social activities and befriending.

Good Neighbour Schemes are popular with volunteers for their flexibility and popular with people because they get to see a trustworthy and friendly face, especially at Christmas time. Some Good Neighbour Schemes even put on Christmas themed activities.

The winter season can be challenging at the best of times, especially if you’re alone and have no one to support you. Age UK says nearly one million older people get lonelier around Christmas. The charity estimates that 873,000 people aged 65 and over do not see or hear from someone for days on end over the festive period.

The isolation and exclusion experienced by some individuals can be the result of family loss, or friends and relations move away in the search for employment, education or affordable housing. These schemes not only help the elderly but all people who may need support including the disabled, single parents, young parents and those temporarily in need through illness.

Christine Abraham, Director of Community Services at CAS said:

“We are delighted to be able to start developing Good Neighbour Schemes in Suffolk. We have seen first hand the difference made by friendly and helpful neighbours in a community. The schemes enable vulnerable people to live independently and well in their own homes. This funding will enable CAS to bring more schemes to more people and communities in Suffolk.”

Sally Connick is CAS’s new Good Neighbour Scheme Development Officer and is keen to hear from anyone that is interested in the concept of Good Neighbour Schemes and would like to be involved. Sally said:

“I’m looking for committed individuals to co-ordinate schemes in their local area, as well as people who would like to volunteer some time. Volunteers make a difference in many ways, such as popping in on older neighbours to say hello, providing low level support to new parents, particularly mums, or collecting prescriptions and food shopping.”

Sally hopes that by next Christmas there will be more active Good Neighbour Schemes in Suffolk ensuring that there is less loneliness and isolation in our communities.

Geoffrey Probert, High Sheriff of Suffolk, is a supporter of the schemes and said:

“I believe every village & ward deserves a Good Neighbour Scheme and I would urge any community that does not have one to learn from those who do and to set one up.”

For more information on Good Neighbour Schemes in Suffolk contact Sally Connick at Community Action Suffolk. [email protected] 01473 345359 / 07884 563370