Island Life Magazine Ltd October/November 2011 - Page 96

FASHION HEALTH & BEAUTY Be a good neighbour The nights are rapidly drawing in, and winter will soon be upon us. So it is important to be a good neighbour to any elderly people who may live nearby. The Age Concern Isle of Wight Good Neighbour Scheme provides just that opportunity to anyone who wants to volunteer to help the elderly. It is a voluntary scheme where local residents assist their older neighbours in times of genuine need when they have no family or friends to turn to for help. The scheme is funded by Lloyds TSB Foundations and Comic Relief. Mark O'Sullivan, development officer for Good Neighbour Scheme, Age Concern, Isle of Wight, said: “Last summer we set up three pilot areas in 96 Brading, Lake and Sandown where the scheme is now running successfully with the help of about 45 volunteers. In April w e launched further schemes in Ryde and Newport. “Now Age Concern, Isle of Wight would like to bring this voluntary scheme to more areas. Initially to start a new scheme we need to recruit at least 15 volunteers as research in other places has shown this is a minimum requirement for a healthy scheme. As soon as we are ready to launch the scheme we advertise it locally by putting up posters in the area advertising the dedicated Age Concern contact number. Calls to this number are taken by staff members. “Volunteers contact us offering their services and are then invited to our office for a short face to face interview. They then undergo an enhanced police CRB check. “During the interview volunteers are asked what tasks they feel happy and confident to carry out, when during the week they are free and how much spare time they have for volunteering. There is absolutely no pressure for any volunteer to do anything they don’t want to do.” Volunteers might help with transport, light shopping, small tasks around the home, prescription collection, dog-walking, letter-writing, light gardening or just paying a social visit. Requests for help also range include one-off service like changing a light bulb. Tasks are allocated in rotation to spread the workload. If the scheme is unable to help a client for any reason, Age Concern staff will always advise the best course of action and will support the client to achieve satisfaction. Mike added: “We support our volunteers by holding monthly coffee mornings and bi-monthly lunches around the island. In addition to these events we recognise the need for individual clusters of Good Neighbours to meet every other month to discuss their own scheme, invite other local interested people or maybe to organise fundraising activities social events etc. So there is a good social side to being on the scheme.”