Saturday, 28 March 2015 09:39

Rural communities need 'good neighbours'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural communities need 'good neighbours'

GOOD Neighbour schemes are to improve access to services for people in rural North Yorkshire.

Operated by volunteers, the schemes will offer rural residents help with household tasks, picking up prescriptions, giving a lift to the shops or the doctors or just providing some company.

This assistance will be freely available to anyone in the community who needs a helping hand. The schemes will be run by a village or a defined area of a market town.

An additional focus aims to help older people live in their homes independently for longer, to feel more connected to their neighbours and reduce their need for health care services.

Good Neighbours scheme volunteer co-ordinators will be supported by Rural Action Yorkshire, which will offer advice to communities that want to set up Good Neighbours scheme.

The charity has been funded by North Yorkshire County Council's Stronger Communities Programme and NESTA to co-ordinate the project.

Villages and market towns across the seven districts of North Yorkshire, Craven, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Harrogate, Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby, will be eligible for support.

Rural Action Yorkshire will bring co-ordinators together, help make contacts with key partners and provide funding for equipment and insurance to get schemes started.

It will be working with national partners to learn from Good Neighbours schemes across the country, as well as from existing local schemes.

The original idea for "good neighbours" comes from Bedfordshire Rural Community Council, which has been running them for 20 years.

Bedfordshire has around 700 volunteers helping more than 2,000 people a year.

The county's experience is now being turned into a model of best practice and rolled out to five other areas of the UK with the hope that it will go nationwide.

In 20 years, one third of the population in North Yorkshire will be over 65 – putting an expected heavy strain heavy strain on the healthcare system.

"In rural areas we have taken it for granted that we all look out for our neighbours," said Leah Swain, chief officer of Rural Action Yorkshire.

"But with more people commuting out of villages to work and returning late at night we sometimes need to provide a catalyst for good deeds.

"Good Neighbours can provide a framework a whole village can get behind. It is focused on older people, but everyone can sometimes need a little help."

Ms Swain said she hoped the schemes would alleviate some of the strain on public services.

"Good Neighbours increases a sense of collective responsibility and community spirit, which can lead on to other services and activities to the benefit of all."

The Good Neighbours project has been backed by North Yorkshire County Council as part of its Stronger Communities initiative.

Its vision is to have strong and vibrant communities in all parts of the county, where communities play a key role in the design and delivery of local services that benefit local people.

Ms Swain said: "We aim to create seven schemes and deliver 200 helpful actions that directly benefit older people in our communities.

"Action inspires action and Good Neighbours can give support in a way that will hopefully inspire communities to look out for one another in times of need."

  • No comments found

Leave your comments

0 / 500 Character restriction
Your text should be in between 10-500 characters
terms and condition.