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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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.
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
9:00am Saturday 25th October 2014
BIKE safety campaigners have warned that cyclists are risking their lives, after an Oxford Mail survey found more than half of them were riding without lights.
5:18pm Saturday 25th October 2014
A FOOTBALL match was abandoned this afternoon after a bottle was thrown onto the pitch.
1:40pm Saturday 25th October 2014
With an extra hour to enjoy - or recover with - tonight is the perfect night to celebrate one of Oxford's biggest nights of music
9:30am Saturday 25th October 2014
Danny Rose is targeting a move into mid-table today as Oxford United visit Carlisle United in search of a third win in eight days.
9:30am Saturday 25th October 2014
FILM buffs were given a taste of how movies used to be watched as they turned out for a silent screening in Witney.
8:49am Saturday 25th October 2014
Police have said the 21-year-old Oxford University student who was reported missing has been found safe and well.