Recently launched as a pilot across 15 Hanover estates, Good Neighbour schemes encourage residents to look out for others who may be in need of practical help or emotional support. As part of Hanover’s ongoing commitment to improving residents’ wellbeing, the idea is to build a traditional sense of community, thereby reducing isolation and loneliness.
The schemes offer a helping hand rather than attempting to do the work of social services, district nurses or other professional caring groups. Volunteers who take part offer to help other residents with everyday tasks, such as shopping, transport for appointments, dog walking, collecting prescriptions, reading letters or filling out forms online. New residents could be accompanied to social, art and craft activities, enabling them to quickly settle in and feel more welcome. In fact, any activity that the lonely and isolated might find difficult could be considered.
Shona Martin and Alex Barley, members of Hanover’s Service Development team, are running workshops at each of the 15 estates during January, with help and support from the estate managers. So far attendance has been good, with word-of-mouth helping to galvanise interest between estates. A video from the Good Neighbours’ Network will be shown at some workshops, featuring volunteers describing their involvement. Feedback from attendees has been largely positive, with many residents being keen to get involved.
Guidance documents for setting up new schemes have been produced by Hanover, detailing what residents need to know in order to get underway. It is important that any Good Neighbour scheme is inclusive of all residents, however it is for the volunteers to decide what help they can offer, and when. For example, some people may decide they can only offer help at certain times or travel within a certain distance, therefore such boundaries should be set at the outset. Any administration costs incurred by participants, such as petrol, will also require factoring in.
Any effort involved in the set-up of schemes should be far outweighed by improvements to residents’ wellbeing, neighbourly spirit and social interaction. The full benefits will be measured by comparing results from questionnaires circulated during the January workshops and at the end of the pilot, in two months’ time.
Some existing Good Neighbour schemes are already in place at Hanover estates, including those in Nottingham, Selby, Stokenchurch and the Black Elders Day Centre in Gloucester. Please see the links below for full details.