Harnessing the power of neighbourly goodwill for 20 years!Posted on 3rd May 2018 by Toni Slater
We are celebrating 20 years running our Neighbourhood Care Scheme (NCS), the neighbour to neighbour support scheme helping older people and people with physical disabilities and their carers.
Since May 1998, Sean de Podesta has been leading the team of staff and volunteers, making vital connections to reduce social isolation and improve wellbeing. In this blog, he quotes from part of the conclusion of the first annual report (entitled Just What the Doctor Ordered) he wrote for the Neighbourhood Care Scheme in May 1999.
Just What the Doctor Ordered, 1999.
Our experience over the past year suggests that the model of neighbourhood-based volunteer support for older people and people with physical disabilities is one that can work. Certainly, there is a real demand for this service; and, as crucially, it is possible (though not easy) to recruit good volunteers. Also, the evidence indicates that support offered by the volunteers can make a real practical and morale-boosting difference to people’s lives. One of users said of her “very willing and efficient” volunteer that she was “just what the doctor ordered”; it may in fact be the case the scheme makes its users physically healthier, but almost certainly it makes some of them happier and more able to maintain their independence in their local community.
A few more particular points are worth mentioning about the past year’s work. Firstly, it is evident that there is a lack of provision for adults under 60 years old with a physical disability; within our neighbourhoods, we have been able to offer some support to younger individuals, but we know of no organization offering volunteer support at home to this group.
Secondly, in a befriending scheme such as the Neighbourhood Care Scheme, there is a tension between growth (recruiting more volunteers, identifying more potential users) and maintenance (support and monitoring of existing volunteers and users). Eventually, a limit or point of (probably dynamic) balance will be reached beyond which the scheme cannot expand without additional resources.
Sean says, “Interestingly, I could have written virtually the same words for this year’s annual report. In the intervening period, though, a lot has happened. Most of my professional life over the last twenty years has been about working with people to hold that point of dynamic balance and find (and keep) the resources to maintain and expand the scheme. This is what the best job in the city has entailed, and it has been a privilege and my good fortune to have been doing it for twenty years. In the process I have been touched by so much kindness, goodwill and resilience; and engaged with so many fantastic colleagues, volunteers and scheme members, as well as helping to make several thousand lives better than they would otherwise have been.”
We are eternally grateful to staff, volunteers, scheme members and partners and proud of our achievements, demonstrating what is possible when you harness the power of neighbourly goodwill.
Please share a link to this blog with your contacts and social media followers @BHImpetus!