CCS (Community Council for Somerset) is calling on local communities in Somerset to set up Good Neighbours Schemes. This year, the world was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout the towns and villages of Somerset, volunteers turned out in their thousands to support vulnerable people and have been a lifeline for Somerset’s communities.
Good Neighbours Schemes aim to build on that fantastic community spirit, bringing people together and helping to maintain the strong relationships and connections within local communities that have been built during the Covid-19 emergency.
The scheme, supported by funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, is intended to connect willing volunteers and helpers with anyone needing support with small one-off tasks, such as lifts to medical appointments, dog walks, or even simply sharing a cup of tea and a friendly chat.
CCS can provide help and guidance to local community groups to develop their schemes, to ensure they are operating safely for both volunteers and those supported, to set up systems for managing the schemes in the long term and to connect with the wider voluntary sector and other similar schemes.
CCS has run a pilot project over the past year to develop and support new schemes across Somerset. This was really successful and these groups have been part of the huge community effort of the last few months.
In January this year, the Dulverton Good Neighbours Scheme was launched. The group has rapidly established itself as a valuable local voluntary resource to support the community, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis. The group now has over 70 active volunteers.
With the help of a grant from CCS, the Bishops Lydeard and District Good Neighbours Scheme has recently been launched. The grant has so far paid for liability insurance and a mobile phone for use by coordinators who will be receiving any calls for help.
For those considering setting up a Good Neighbours Scheme, a useful toolkit is available by visiting the CCS website https://ccslovesomerset.org/somerset-good-neighbours-scheme and any community in Somerset interested in setting up a scheme should contact CCS by emailing email@example.com or by calling 01823 331 222.