Worthing waiting list means Good Neighbours needs more volunteers

The Good Neighbours scheme is appealing for more volunteers to help people avoid social isolation.

The scheme partners volunteers with older residents who want help to become more active in their community or who need practical support.

It is run by the Royal Voluntary Service, on behalf of West Sussex County Council, and connects people who may be feeling isolated with volunteers who offer their help during 12 arranged home visits.

Helen Kirkham, service manager, said: “With the growing need for services that support people to remain independent in their later years, Royal Voluntary Service is passionate about helping people enjoy more active, healthier and happier lives.

“Our Good Neighbours service provides support to those most at risk of social isolation across West Sussex, with many of our dedicated volunteers giving an hour of their time each week to share their skills, knowledge and experience with others.

“As an organisation, Royal Voluntary Service wants to inspire more people to get involved with volunteering and in turn make a real difference within their local community.”

Good Neighbours client Edmund De Souza and volunteer Kevin Poole

Good Neighbours client Edmund De Souza and volunteer Kevin Poole

The volunteers offer practical help, such as accompanying clients to the shops, enabling people to take up a hobby and supporting them to attend groups, clubs and activities. This can help people to re-engage with others and improve their self-confidence.

The RVS is appealing for new volunteers for the Good Neighbours scheme, particularly in the Worthing area, where there are currently several people on a waiting list to receive assistance.

There are already around 85 volunteers in the Chichester, Arun, Adur and Worthing area, and 110 clients.

Amanda Jupp, cabinet member for adults and health, said: “Reducing social isolation is a key priority for our Age Well campaign. Many people want to keep active and busy but might just need a little bit of practical help or someone to boost their confidence and get them started.

“The Good Neighbours scheme can offer them that support, but for those who volunteer it provides a sense of satisfaction that they are giving something back to people in their local community who need their help.”

A key feature of the service is the ‘safe and well’ checks that volunteers carry out during all home visits, looking out for any changes in health, wellbeing or home surroundings.

Volunteer Kevin Poole has helped several clients regain their confidence and independence, enabling them to get involved with community activities.

Kevin said: “If someone is thinking of volunteering for the RVS, go and see your local group. You can commit as much or as little as you can fit in with your everyday life and you will not regret it. It has been more enjoyable than I ever thought it would be.”

Good Neighbours West Sussex is available free but clients will need to meet any associated expenses, such as phone calls, travel and activity charges.

For more information, visit www.westsussexwellbeing.org.uk/topics/being-social/good-neighbours, telephone 01903 257019 or email gnwscoastal@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk.