A network of volunteers is helping to combat a rise in social isolation across the county.
Good Neighbour Schemes, run by coordinators in individual towns and villages, link people in need to volunteers who can provide transport to doctor appointments, or help with shopping, gardening and housework.
But support can also come in the form of just visiting for a cup of tea.
For 94-year-old Irene Verrall, who lives in Hailsham, weekly visits from volunteer Sue McGinnis have given her a ‘new lease of life’, while she said she enjoyed the company.
“Meeting Irene has been fantastic, she has become like a mum to me,” Sue said. “Visiting Irene has given me a lot as well and I always enjoy coming to see her.
“It works two ways and it’s very rewarding. I didn’t expect to become so close to Irene.”
East Sussex County Council is working with five community and voluntary organisations to support the scheme’s development, and boost the number of registered volunteers.
Teresa Gittins, from Action in Rural Sussex, said there were a number of established schemes in the High Weald, Lewes and Havens area but there were others that needed more volunteers.
She added: “Being a predominantly rural area, there are a lot of people who need help with transport to appointments and shopping trips, but we are keen to encourage schemes to offer more befriending services.
“People think there are council services that should be looking after vulnerable people in communities, but the Good Neighbour Scheme is breaking down the ‘them and us’ barriers.
“It is making people realise that they could do something to help.”
Bill Bentley, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for adult social care, welcomed the renewed focus on Good Neighbour Schemes across the county.
He said: “East Sussex has one of the largest populations of people over the age of 85 in the country, with around ten per cent saying they feel lonely.
“The Good Neighbour Schemes play a vital role in tackling the growing problem of social isolation.
“People within a community are usually well placed to see when their neighbours need a helping hand, a bit of support or just a friendly face to pop in for a chat.
“It’s the little things that can make a huge difference to the life of an elderly, vulnerable person.”
To find out more about the Good Neighbour Schemes, how to set one up or volunteer in your local community, visit new.eastsussex.gov.uk/community/volunteering/good_neighbour_schemes/
To find your local Good Neighbour Scheme visit eastsussex.gov.uk/1spacegoodneighbours
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage
2) Like our Facebook page
3) Follow us on Twitter
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
Always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.