On Wednesday 10 June, the Good Neighbour Scheme team held a Virtual Afternoon Tea with existing schemes and 4 of the live schemes were able to attend. It was a great catch-up and an opportunity to share our news.
Scheme committee members talked about their response to Covid-19, their recovery and also local resilience. Some of the key points and challenges raised included;
- Some committed volunteers have had to self-isolate, which has limited their capacity to provide support to their current volunteer group.
- Activity has moved towards shopping, prescription collection and friendly welfare phone calls.
- Flexibility has been key; doing things slightly differently to achieve outcomes. Volunteers have had to handle debit cards for contactless payments, as there has been no alternative, which has demonstrated real trust in the scheme and volunteers.
- Many new volunteers have come forward, including younger volunteers, which schemes hope to retain.
- Lots of vulnerable and isolated residents have been supported by their neighbours in the community and not just through schemes.
- Urgency of tasks has been a challenge, with many requests for support that needed to be done ‘today’.
- GNSs are proud of the many great things that they have achieved during this time.
- There has been a fantastic show of community spirit with lots of examples of people generally being kind to others, e.g. free deliveries of bread and scones.
This is what our GNSs have been doing during lock down:
- Previous activity was mainly providing lifts to appointments but due to the pandemic this came to an end.
- More recently, shopping/prescription collection activity has been carried out. They also collected a urine sample for a baby!
- The carried out up to 18 different activities.
- From 25 March to date, 170 tasks have been completed; including shopping/prescriptions and welfare phone calls (although not all calls have been recorded).
- 10-15 service users have received weekly phone contact; 100’s of calls have been made during the pandemic.
- 2 hospital transport tasks have been undertaken (referrals from the village surgery) – full PPE was worn by an existing volunteer.
- 24 extra volunteers came forward.
- An additional 21 people used the scheme because of Covid-19; Linkwell now have approximately 100 scheme users.
- Prior to lock-down, volunteers carried out regular home visits and face-to-face contact, which is invaluable to many, and which they are keen to return to.
- The village carried out a Facebook appeal and recruited 42 new volunteers.
- The pub in the village provided a take-away service and a special menu, which they felt would appeal to more elderly residents, and volunteers helped to deliver meals.
- Springline wanted to develop a befriending/buddying service as part of a strategy for next year. However, this has been brought forward due to Covid-19. They contacted all existing clients twice a week to check up on them. This has been immensely helpful to many and the vast majority have been delighted to chat; a very valuable addition.
- There are now 40+ younger people that understand what Springline does and are looking at their neighbours to see how they can bring more clients on board.
- The reputation of the scheme has grown and awareness has been greatly enhanced by Covid-19.
- Springline were involved in a multi-agency approach to safeguarding a vulnerable elderly couple where post was accumulating at their home. Springline were alerted to this and it transpired that the lady was bed-ridden and the gentleman had hearing difficulties and diabetes. The couple had not asked for help. Springline contacted the local Health Centre and were advised to inform the Police. The gentleman was subsequently taken to hospital, where he was diagnosed with gangrene and he had to have part of his leg amputated. Whilst the gentleman was in hospital, a neighbour checked on his wife and found that she’d had nothing to eat for 2 days. Social Services were then notified and the couple are now in a care home together.
Good news story; A local lady, living on her own in a flat, has a daughter and grandchildren that she hasn’t been able to see. One of the volunteers met her in the car park outside her home and got her an iPad and connected her up to FaceTime with her family. This was the first time in weeks that she had had the opportunity to ‘see’ her family and she was so grateful for this kind offer.
- Mablethorpe GNS was due to open in June, when the virus hit. It was up and running within 1 week.
- There has been a high demand for shopping/prescriptions. Collected 300 prescriptions and carried out 350-400 shopping activities.
- They have also taken service users to the blood clinic, as no public transport was available.
- Some miscellaneous jobs also carried out; tuning TVs, smoke alarm and call button installations.
- The committee already knew a lot of people in the area and pulled together a team of 39 volunteers on a rota; many of whom are now returning to work.
- Mablethorpe Cares, a local community group, is closing so the GNS hopes to take on their volunteers and service users.
What being part of the Good Neighbour Scheme Network means and how it has helped:
“It would have been very difficult to start-up on our own and there are definite long-term benefits in being part of the scheme. Activity needs underpinning, which schemes provides.”
“The network provides a tried and tested infrastructure and I would urge schemes to join.”
“Many come to us as a GNS as they know that we do things ‘properly’, i.e. activity is recorded and safeguarding is followed, which promotes confidence. Also, if we need advice, we can contact the GNS Team and an answer is only a phone call or email away. GNS is the best thing I have ever done.”
“I feel well supported; the scheme allows each local group the freedom to become what they want to become, to help local people.”
Supporting Covid-19 Community Support Groups
The GNS Team continues to support Covid-19 community support groups that have been established as a result of the pandemic. Many of them would like to continue to support their community post-lock down. The GNS team is on hand to support groups to do just that.
Communty Lincs, part of YMCA Lincolnshire, working with Lincolnshire Co-op
During the pandemic, Lincolnshire Co-op has been linking community groups with their stores and pharmacies and keeping in touch with them. This has presented a fantastic opportunity for us to work together to support our communities through Good Neighbour Schemes. We’re excited to be working with Lincolnshire Co-op’s Community team, contacting all emerged Covid-19 groups to offer support, assistance and to introduce them all to the Good Neighbour Scheme (GNS) initiative whilst they consider “what’s next?”.
For further information about Good Neighbour Schemes, please email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org