AN army of good neighbours is forming in Didcot to help young mums, pensioners and anyone else who needs a hand.

Staff at Didcot Day Centre launched a good neighbour scheme – backed by Oxfordshire County Council – to help people with shopping, dog-walking, collecting prescriptions or odd jobs.

Twelve volunteers have already come forward and with funding now in place from Oxfordshire County Council, the scheme’s committee is ready to start advertising for people to help.

Chairman Glyn Hall, 57, said: “This is a way of people who need help getting it quickly and easily.

“It’s not an emergency service like 999, or a befriending scheme offering long-term companionship. It’s a scheme whereby a young mum, for example, who has a sick baby and cannot get out to fetch a prescription, can phone and get someone to do it for her.

“Or, when an elderly person finds themselves housebound because of bad weather, they can phone and get someone to pop and get them some shopping.”

Mr Hall, who is the former president of Didcot Chamber of Commerce, added: “As the years have passed and people have begun to move around more, communities have changed and we don’t often know what our neighbours are doing, or, if they are in need.

“This will hopefully change that.”

Posters and leaflets will be put up in GP surgeries and day and community centres to find clients and more volunteers.

Joanna Havard, from Didcot, has already volunteered as a good neighbour.

The 61-year-old, who is widowed and has two grown-up children, said: “I was born and bred in Didcot and have seen many changes over the years. People are very busy and don’t always form relationships with their neighbours, but people of all ages and backgrounds do need help from time to time.”

Bicester, Wantage, Letcombe Regis and Chipping Norton have similar projects operating, while Kidlington, Charlbury and Long Hanborough have all recently been awarded start-up grants to set projects up.

Scheme co-ordinator Kathryn Francis said: “We have been thrilled by how many volunteers have come forward already, but we would like a lot more.

“Volunteers give whatever time they can.

“Anyone who has a few hours a week in which they could lend someone a hand would be very much appreciated.”

To volunteer, or to find out more about joining Didcot Day Centre, call 07592 326777.