New scheme to help lonely 1066 country residents

Volunteer Jennifer McInness with East Sussex resident Audrey Mark Fort
Volunteer Jennifer McInness with East Sussex resident Audrey Mark Fort

A small army of volunteers are stepping in to offer practical help to those in need and fight social isolation across 1066 country.

Rother Voluntary Action and Hastings Voluntary Action are working with East Sussex County Council to support the development of Good Neighbour Schemes, set up new schemes and boost the number of volunteers across the county.

The schemes, run by coordinators in towns and villages, link people in communities that need support with volunteers who are able to help.

East Sussex resident Audrey Mark Fort struggles to walk on her own following a fall and relies on a volunteer for company and practical help.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the volunteers who come to see me,” she said.

“I wanted someone to talk to, as it’s quite lonely when you can’t get out and it’s helped me so much.”

The day to day running of schemes is carried out by a local coordinator with the support of voluntary organisations.

Volunteers help with all sort of household chores and errands including shopping, letter writing and just popping in for a chat.

Head of services and projects for the area Jan Cutting said: “We have a real mix of people in the area we cover and a variety of needs, from help with transport to company for those who feel isolated.

“Communities need to help to support themselves rather than relying on social or health services to be responsible for everything, particularly as the need is becoming greater than the resource.

“The great thing about Good Neighbour Schemes is that they build a relationship between adult social care services and the community, and encourage them to work together to ensure everyone in a town or village is getting the help and support they need.”

The council’s lead member for adult social care cllr Bill Bentley welcomed the renewed focus on Good Neighbour Schemes across the county.

“East Sussex has one of the largest populations of people over the age of 85 in the country, with around 10 per cent saying they feel lonely,” he said.

“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:

To find your nearest scheme visit:|}

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