Good Neigbour Schemes at the forefront of community response

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CAN’s long-standing network of Good Neighbour Schemes across Norfolk was well-placed to mobilise its members to respond quickly to local need and the past few weeks have seen the Schemes welcome many new volunteers join in response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

We have also been supporting emerging Good Neighbour Response groups across the county, People wishing to set up a Coronavirus support group in their community can benefit from our existing support structures. Volunteers can be signed up under CAN’s insurance as a Good Neighbour Response Team, with advice and information on safeguarding. data protection and volunteer management. These schemes are designed as a short-term solution during the current lockdown and once restrictions have been lifted they can choose to either phase out their support or transition to becoming a fully-fledged Good Neighbour Scheme. 

CAN has a proven track record in helping communities set up Good Neighbour Schemes, run by groups of local people to provide day-to-day support for other residents in their community who may need help on an occasional or regular basis.

Since the middle of March our existing Good Neighbour Schemes have been playing a vital role in the community response to the Coronavirus pandemic, being at the front line of supporting their neighbours and proving how important it is to have a co-ordinated support network in communities. 

North Walsham Good Neighbour Scheme, for example, has completed more than 150 tasks for vulnerable residents in the past fortnight, mainly shopping, collecting prescriptions, befriending ‘phone calls and dog-walking.  

Eight miles to the south, Coltishall & Horstead Good Neighbour Scheme has seen a similar pattern of activity, including setting up a rota of calling isolated and vulnerable residents twice weekly to check on their welfare.  

Scheme co-ordinator and manager Julie Douglass says “We’ve leaflet-dropped both communities to remind them of the services we offer, and have seen fifteen new volunteers come forward, happy to give of their time and skills to help others. It’s a great response and crucially important as some of our original volunteers are themselves having to self-isolate just now.” 

Anyone wanting to start up a COVID-19 support group is recommended to first check to see if there’s already a Good Neighbour Scheme which they could join in their area. 

Otherwise, contact [email protected] or call  01362 698216 for advice and support in setting up your local response group.