Brundall and Blofield Good Neighbour Scheme - Covid and beyond

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Click here to read information on the status of Community Action Norfolk's Services. As well as links to other information and advice
This website uses cookies. You can read more about how we use your personal data in our Privacy Notice

Our Good Neighbour Schemes continue to provide essential support for vulnerable residents in communities across Norfolk.  The aim of these schemes continues to be to offer support to people who need help with essential everyday tasks, such as grocery shopping, straightforward DIY tasks in the home, transport to medical appointments, light gardening, dog walking, collecting prescriptions and telephone befriending.  

Brundall & Blofield Good Neighbour Scheme (BBGNS) has been running since August 2016, and so was already well placed and had the experience to respond when the Covid-19 pandemic arrived. The volunteers, of which there are presently 28, cover a large area - the combined population of Brundall and Blofield is around 10,800, more than some towns.  

Nick Folkard, chair of BBGNS says “Our volunteers come from all ages – we have younger volunteers, some are retired, but all are willing and able to give their free time and energy towards helping the community. As to those we help, many are of course older and unable to move far, but we also help younger and disabled people – essentially, anyone needing the support we can offer.” 

The work of BBGNS has seen continuous growth, particularly in the number of different households requesting a service. While lifts and shopping have reduced a little, prescription collection has increased. Volunteers helped steward ‘flu clinics before Christmas and BBGNS is now, of course, receiving requests for transport to Covid Clinics.   

Working with partners  

Working with partners is a great way to reach more people in need, and access other skills too.  

Vice chair Roger Impey has attended online training from Active Norfolk about the need for physical activity and as a result is distributing home exercise packs to those keen on maintaining their physical wellbeing.    

The local church has also been supportive of BBGNS, reports Roger. “The Good Neighbour Scheme is certainly a benefit to the residents, which is not available in many areas. In Brundall this is backed up by the Yare Valley Churches and the active Rector Peter Leech, with his wheelchair assist vehicle (WAV), and the activities they run in the church hall.”  

BBGNS was contacted to see if they could provide traffic management support for the ‘flu vaccination days held at the Memorial Hall. Roger took on the challenge and set rotas and allocated times. The surgery staff kindly kept the volunteers supplied with drinks and snacks. The surgery was very grateful for the for the support provided by BBGNS – a great example of local organisations working together.  

And at Christmas, BBGNS volunteers distributed 100 activity packs, crowd-funded and produced by Norwich Arts Centre, for children, adults and families to help during lockdown.  

Risk assessment and personal safety  

In this time of Covid it’s important that volunteers as well as service users are protected, and their 5-page risk assessment reflects BBGNS’s commitment to maintaining safety standards, especially where proximity engagement with individuals is unavoidable, such as transport and household jobs. Indeed, a caveat has been added, stating volunteers need to feel free to decline due to Covid concerns. Volunteers carry PPE with them, including sanitising gel and face masks, and use them regularly, especially before any contact with any items that may be shared or passed between the volunteer and the vulnerable person. Face masks are always worn while shopping, collecting prescriptions and transporting people.  

Looking beyond Covid 

Nick explains how the system works. “There are 3 duty officers including myself, who share in coordinating the support.  And new volunteers are always welcome. This isn’t just for Covid. We were there helping the community three years before Covid and the work will go on, because there is always the need to help and support the vulnerable residents in our communities.”  

Brundall and BLofield Good Neighbour Scheme can be contacted on 0800 6889677 or by emailing [email protected].   

This is part of a series of examples of the huge contribution made by local VCSE organisations in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. To understand more about the pivotal role played by Voluntary and Social Enterprise organisations in Norfolk’s Covid-19 response effort please visit our Norfolk VCSE Covid-19 Story page.  And you can read more about our Good Neighbour Scheme network here.