Scheme helps Abingdon elderly make friends

From left, Abingdon Good Neighbours Scheme chairman David Harmsworth and volunteer Michael Kovari with an elderly neighbour he visits Picture: OX69568 Jon Lewis

From left, Abingdon Good Neighbours Scheme chairman David Harmsworth and volunteer Michael Kovari with an elderly neighbour he visits Picture: OX69568 Jon Lewis Buy this photo

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

IT’S not just the residents of Ramsay Street who need good neighbours.

Growing numbers of elderly and disabled people in Abingdon are taking advantage of a scheme which links them up with new friends.

Abingdon Good Neighbours Scheme, which celebrates its fourth birthday this month, now has 45 volunteers who visit 40 people a week.

Volunteers go shopping, mow lawns, fix lights or just have a cup of tea and a chat with their “charges”.

David Harmsworth, 75, who helps run the scheme, said a large part of the group’s efforts were spent on simply befriending people. He said: “People are growing older, but remaining fiercely independent.

“They won’t ask for help, but when they open up to you, they tell you they are lonely.

“We say ‘you provide the biscuits and we’ll provide the chat’.

“We have found quite a lot of people benefit from it, and once they get to know you they really look forward to it.

“It provides a link with the outside world which is essential.”

One woman, who uses the service but did not want to be named, said having a friend come over for a chat and to help out with odd jobs had been “wonderful”.

The 90-year-old, who is partially blind and lives alone, said: “Unless I can find someone to take me out, I’m housebound.

“My family do as much as they possibly can but there is a lot that I need doing.”

The group is taking a growing number of referrals from the John Radcliffe and other hospitals as well as charities like Age UK.

Mr Harmsworth said: “We get a call saying ‘we have a patient here, we are about to discharge, can you lend them a hand?’”

But he added: “Some people still don’t even know we’re here.”

Michael Kovari, a scientist at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), has been volunteering for a year-and-a-half and visits three elderly women regularly.

The married father of two boys said: “Some of them are quite close to their families, but three or four days without seeing anybody is a long time.

“We try as far as possible to do all the help ourselves – gardening, shopping or whatever.

“Other organisations tend to ‘signpost’ people to other services; we try to be the end of that process.”

The 53-year-old added: “Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of befriending an old lady, just sitting down and chatting, but it isn’t as difficult as it sounds.

“Anyone who is unsure about it is welcome to come along and try it out.”

  • Those interested in volunteering can call Mr Harmsworth on 07956 019611 or email gns.nea@gmail.com

 

 

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.

Send your Letter to the Editor: What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter for publication here

11:20am Monday 28th July 2014

What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.

Our top stories

Women first as charity runners brave weather

Oxford Mail:

6:30am Monday 30th March 2015

THIS year’s wet and windy OX5 Run was won by a woman for the first time after Sophie Carter took on the challenge for her son.

Timber from felled trees will be recycled to boost Oxford charity

Oxford Mail:

6:00am Monday 30th March 2015

TREES that were cut down to make way for the Westgate development are now changing lives in Blackbird Leys.

Video: Is there a flash of Blenheim Palace in new trailer for Bond film Spectre?

Oxford Mail:

9:41pm Sunday 29th March 2015

BLENHEIM Palace seemingly appears in the first official trailer for the new James Bond film Spectre.

Nick Clegg launches Lib Dem election campaign in Abingdon

Oxford Mail:

1:19pm Sunday 29th March 2015

DEPUTY Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited Abingdon this afternoon to launch the Liberal Democrats' campaign for the General Election.

Video: Organisers praise dedication of OX5 runners who braved the elements

Oxford Mail:

12:58pm Sunday 29th March 2015

HUNDEREDS of people lined the gardens of Blenheim Palace on a wet and windy Sunday to cheer on the runners of today's OX5 Run.

Low power reported in Cumnor and Marcham

Oxford Mail: light bulb with power lines

12:14pm Sunday 29th March 2015

PEOPLE have been left with reduced electricity this afternoon after power problems hit Cumnor and Marcham.

 

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree