By Vicki Turton (Surrey Community Action)
What a challenging two years we have had with Covid! So much has changed since March 2020 – some for the better, some for the worse.
Unfortunately, the pandemic forced the closure of a very vibrant good neighbour scheme called The Ashes. The Ashes was a group of local volunteers who helped older residents get to their doctor or to the hospital. They also took people to the hairdresser and to the shops. The volunteers were very often the only person their client had seen or spoken to for several days. They provided a fantastic transport service and a friendly, listening ear.
Like many good neighbour schemes across the county, The Ashes initially closed temporarily to protect volunteers and their clients. But by the time Covid had ravaged through our communities, The Ashes committee felt they could not restart the scheme after such a long hiatus as they had too few drivers and people to co-ordinate transport bookings.
With the help of a local councillor, Carla Morson, Surrey Community Action is trying to set up a new good neighbour scheme for Ash. Surrey Community Action is a county-wide charity which supports voluntary and not-for-profit groups with advice and services to help them to operate more effectively. We also run a range of projects to give local communities a helping hand.
But we need the community’s support to help make a new scheme a success. We had a few responses to Carla’s first call for volunteers at the beginning of November, but we really need more local people with local knowledge to form a group to get the scheme off the ground. With our support, this group would meet to discuss how the scheme will work, how it will be funded (never a problem!), find and recruit volunteers, publicise the scheme and get it going again.
We feel it is really important, for so many people, to have this vital lifeline within their community. If you feel you can help with this, please call me for a “no-obligation” chat or email me and I can get back to you. Perhaps this would be a fantastic New Year’s Resolution? You can give as much time or as little time as you want. And it is really rewarding – so many good neighbour scheme volunteers tell us how much satisfaction they gain from helping someone else in the community.
There will be an opportunity at St Mary’s Parish Church, Vale Road, Ash Vale to talk about it on Friday 21 January 2022 at 10.30am. Please come for a cup of tea and hear more and ask questions. Again, there is NO OBLIGATION. My details are: Vicki Turton. Tel – 01483 447121 (please leave a message if I’m not available), E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org