0191 643 2626
admin@voda.org.uk

Good Neighbours

Leigh Culyer: Good Neighbours Volunteer

After seeing a number of posts on social media about supporting the most vulnerable residents of North Tyneside during the COVID-19 lockdown, retired Head Teacher Leigh Culyer from North Shields enlisted to help by joining VODA’s Good Neighbours and the national Good Sam scheme.

Leigh, who is currently studying to be a counsellor at Newcastle College was keen to help people isolating and shielding who would be unable to shop, access essential services and pick up medication. Leigh commented: “I worried that many of these people could be alone and without families or friends to support them. I felt that if I could help in a small way it might make things easier for those most vulnerable who needed support”. Leigh now has four regulars that she shops for each week, as well as delivering prescriptions and topping up gas and electricity.

One of Leigh’s regulars is an elderly lady who lives alone and has existing health conditions and will be isolating at least until the end of June. Her family live in another part of the country and are key workers. Leigh has been delivering shopping to her since the beginning of the lockdown and is the only person she sees from week to week. Their relationship has developed from volunteer and beneficiary to good friends, with Leigh planning to continue her visits when lockdown is over.

Leigh has loved all aspects of the volunteering role, but the biggest part has been getting to know the residents. “The feeling of a community who works together for the benefit of others has been really special. The organisation and the people running the project have been so friendly, helpful and efficient. Overall, the project has brought so many people together for the needs of others – a great positive to come out of this crisis.”

When asked if she would recommend volunteering to others, Leigh said: Definitely, it’s a great way to give some of your time and skills to benefit and support others. You will meet new people, feel part of a community and put a smile on someone’s face. Giving just a little of your time can mean a great deal to others.”

*Photo shows Leigh with her new grandson Albert, born a few weeks before the lockdown.

Read more

Pat: Good Neighbours Volunteer

Pat from Whitley Bay was in Spain with her husband and dog when the Coronavirus lockdown started to happen and they quickly made their way home. As soon as she returned, Pat started thinking of what she could do to help people in her local community most affected by the crisis.

Pat commented: “I was really keen to do something useful, like most of us, and researched volunteer groups on the internet. I immediately found VODA and the NHS volunteer responders’ scheme and applied for both.  Once the application process started with VODA, like all the other applicants, I became eager to do my first job.”

Since signing up, Pat has undertaken a number of roles for VODA’s COVID-19 Good Neighbours, including delivering shopping for a number of residents as well as an emergency prescription pick up. She has also become a regular shopper for one lady who is nearly 90. Pat is keen to keep this relationship going as the older lady has very little contact with anyone else and has begun to rely on the weekly contact with Pat for her food delivery but also for the weekly telephone call Pat makes to her, checking her food order to make sure she’s ordered enough food for herself for the week.

Reflecting on her experience of signing up as a volunteer with Good Neighbours Pat said: “Every member of staff from VODA has taken the actions the volunteers are doing so personally, it’s like we are doing this for them! In every email and conversation you all make me feel that you are personally grateful for everything I do – I feel so valued and appreciated – as if I am unique and special and doing a brilliant job.  I never expected to feel this from the staff as a volunteer. It’s been brilliant.”

As Pat had more time on her hands than was called upon by the volunteer groups, she decided to help the food banks that she’d heard were desperately in need of donations. Pat asked all her neighbours in the surrounding area of her home if they would like to get involved too, and they did, in a very generous way. She set up a donation bin on her drive and wrote to all her neighbours asking for donations of food to be placed in the bin and offered to collect any donations on Thursday evenings after the Clap for Carers at 8 pm for all those neighbours who couldn’t leave their homes. The neighbours left their donations on their driveways for Pat and husband Tony to collect.  For the last 3 weeks Pat and Tony have delivered car boot’s worth of food to the Bay Foodbank.  This is something they are planning to continue and now have another local street involved. As well as being able to support the food bank, Pat says her neighbours are grateful to be able to contribute to helping others during the pandemic, and it helps with their own wellbeing at the same time.

Read more

Anne: Good Neighbours Beneficiary

When the realities of the coronavirus started to hit home in the UK, like many, Anne from Longbenton realised she was in an at risk group due to taking immune suppressing medication, in addition her husband is over 70. Having no immediate family nearby for support, Anne was extremely concerned about how they would cope.

“I used to lie awake at night worrying about how we could get food. We’re not online, so couldn’t make any orders over the internet and neither of us drive, which made going out for shopping even more challenging,” commented Anne.

Thankfully, in a regular phone conversation with her neighbour who is also shielding, Anne was told about the North Tyneside COVID-19 Support Hub, who she contacted and was quickly referred to the COVID-19 Good Neighbours scheme.

Anne was able to pay money over the phone to the council, which was then collected by her volunteer Cathy so that she could go shopping on her behalf. Cathy now shops for the couple once a week to ensure they have everything they need.

Anne added: “Cathy is an absolute godsend. Nothing is a problem for her. If something isn’t available, she’ll ring me to check if there is anything else I would like. Last week she even came back to drop off a VE Day poster for our window, it was such a thoughtful thing to do. Everyone I have spoken to has been amazing, it is really reassuring knowing that there is someone there for us during this challenging time.”

Read more

Maureen and Harry: Good Neighbours Beneficiaries

Maureen and her husband Harry are both in their 70s and live in sheltered accommodation in West Allotment. Due to various health concerns, Maureen has been shielding at home since January, with Harry taking care of the shopping and other necessities. However, as the COVID-19 situation worsened, Harry became more and more anxious about catching it while out on his shopping trips and giving it to Maureen, who is on the NHS vulnerable list. Harry commented: “Every time I left the house I was worried that I would bring the virus back with me and make Maureen ill.”

The couple were referred to the COVID-19 Good Neighbours project where they were matched with volunteer Fearne.  “Josie from VODA was amazing, so friendly and helpful, nothing was a problem and she got us sorted out quickly,” said Maureen.

To minimise exposure, they were able to pay via the North Tyneside Council payment scheme, which allows people to pay up to £70 over the phone, which is then given to the volunteers by VODA so that they can get the shopping needed. Fearne lets Harry know when she has arrived so that he can go to the side gate of their complex so she can put the shopping in, then he can wheel it back home in one go.

Harry also added: “I can’t thank VODA and the Good Neighbours enough, the relief knowing that I am not going out there and putting Maureen at risk is immeasurable. We’ve had three lots of shopping from them now and it has been fantastic. Nothing is a problem for Fearne, she is a lovely young lady and a credit to her generation.”

Maureen concluded: “It has done me the world of good knowing that people are willing to do things like this for us and that we can still get food even though we are shielding. Thank you to everyone involved. “

Read more

North Tyneside comes together to provide a lifeline from the community

Press release from North Tyneside Council 28.04.20

North Tyneside Council launched its dedicated Covid-19 support hub last month for those in need of immediate help and support and who can’t call on anyone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s part of the local authority’s response to the pandemic, helping to shield its most vulnerable residents who are living in their home without support from others, by providing non-clinical help.

And it’s been thanks to local authority staff and an army of volunteers that the hub has already helped over 3,200 residents.

A 62-strong council team – made up of the existing contact centre and 28 others who volunteered to be redeployed from their existing role – have fielded over 3,200 calls from the public. A further 65 redeployed staff are helping to support the hub by making regular welfare phone calls, checking that people have food, spending time talking to them and helping to identify any extra help and support they may need to help them to shield.

The requests into the hub from the public have included help picking up prescriptions, household supplies, grocery shopping and purchasing pet food.

North Tyneside-based charity VODA has then mobilised 255 newly recruited volunteers to carry out over 700 tasks to date, via their Good Neighbours project.

Volunteers from charities Age UK North Tyneside and Dreamshine are also offering a befriending telephone service to chat with people who may feel lonely during isolation.

It really is a community effort – with staff and volunteers from Family Gateway and Cedarwood Trust, two other local charities, also delivering meals to residents, while other charities and community groups are focusing their efforts on providing support over the telephone and via digital channels.

And 43 businesses have offered their services as part of the support hub too, helping to provide essential groceries and prepared meals, through North Tyneside Business Forum.

North Tyneside Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn CBE said: “Protecting our most vulnerable residents is always a top priority for this council – and the support hub is absolutely critical in helping to do so right now.

“Working side-by-side with so many remarkable organisations, groups and volunteers means we have been able to help everyone who has urgently needed our support. We could not do this without them, and I would like to thank them all.

“The response from the community has been truly humbling – there have been acts of kindness shown right across the borough. We have had so many community-spirted people willing to help in many different ways, and I am delighted we have been able to coordinate so much of this so successfully through the support hub and, of course, only with VODA’s help.”

Chief Executive of VODA, Robin Fry added: “It’s been amazing to see so many local residents, community groups and charities come together to offer vital support to some of our most vulnerable residents. There has always been a strong culture of volunteering and social action across the borough and we are lucky to have some amazing charities who have been able to adapt their services to meet demand. The contribution of the voluntary sector is going to more important than ever to help our communities recover from this pandemic.”

One of hub’s volunteers is Julie Partridge, a retired teacher from Whitley Bay, who has regularly been grocery shopping and doing telephone shifts talking to those feeling lonely, as well as mentoring young people.

Julie said: “The experience has been an absolute pleasure. I have enjoyed so much about this experience – the smiles, the laughter and the feeling of being a tiny helping part of a much, much bigger movement. I would encourage others thinking about volunteering to just do it!

“I wanted to volunteer during this time because there are many things about the present situation that are so completely beyond our control that I am concerned about people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“One of my regular weekly shopping trips has become a ‘chat’ as well. Once a week we chat on the phone as we go over the list and I make sure that I’m not in a rush when delivering the shopping. The person that I shop for has acknowledged that they are struggling with their mental health in the present climate and seems to enjoy the interaction that we have. Many people have used the phrase ‘human voice’ and I believe that is what is needed at this time.”

The opening hours for the COVID-19 support hub are Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm, and is available via TEL: 0345 2000 101 or emailing contact.us@northtyneside.gov.uk.

While it is available to anyone in urgent need of non-clinical help in the borough, priority will be given to those identified by the NHS as critically vulnerable due to health conditions.

North Tyneside Council’s contact centre is run by its partner Engie.

Read more

VODA launches COVID-19 volunteering opportunities

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak we are scaling up our Good Neighbours volunteering project to help address the needs of our local communities across North Tyneside. We are seeking volunteers who can commit a small amount of time to supporting their communities during these difficult times. We are working with North Tyneside Council and local community groups to identify people who require support whilst they are self-isolating due to infection or as a precautionary measure.

We have developed three temporary volunteering roles to help meet demand. Tier 1 roles that do not involve face to face contact with potentially vulnerable people including shopping and making up isolation packs. The Tier 3 role will involve face to face contact with vulnerable people, handling money and having access to medication. These roles will require volunteers to have an Enhanced DBS check.

All volunteers will be supported by VODA. Read more and access the role descriptions here.

Read more

Working together to End Loneliness in North Tyneside

Loneliness is an issue that is growing in awareness in our society. The Government recently launched a new website – Let’s Talk Loneliness – to bring together organisations, resources and inspirational stories to get more people talking about loneliness. One of their first case studies featured Minn Marshall, a beneficiary of North Tyneside VODA’s Good Neighbours project, which looks to team up volunteers to provide support to isolated residents in North Tyneside with small tasks and errands typically associated with a good neighbour.  

Minnan 89 year old resident of North Tynesidewas put in touch with the project by her warden when she started struggling with her shopping. Minn now attends Good Neighbour’s weekly shopping trip, supported by one of our volunteers. Minn said: “I really look forward to Tuesdays now and don’t know where I’d be without the Good Neighbours. 

VODA has managed the Good Neighbours project in North Tyneside for a number of years, including a weekly supported shopping trip to Tesco in North Shields and volunteers who use their skills to help out beneficiaries with odd jobs that they can no longer manage themselves. We recently secured funding to expand this project to the west of the borough and have appointed a new project coordinator to recruit new volunteers and beneficiaries to support this growth. Part of this expansion is a new weekly shopping trip to Morrisons Killingworth every Thursday at 1pm. If you would like to find out more, or to get involved, please contact jen.hewitt@voda.org.uk

This winter, as part of the North Tyneside Winter Support Network, VODA facilitated the distribution of keep warm packs and emergency food packs to residents who need extra support during the winter months. The keep warm packs included a fleece blanket, hot water bottle, thermometer, thermo mug, thermal socks, hats, gloves and snood. Alongside this, volunteers have made almost 200 draught excluders so far, which have been distributed to the Bay Foodbank and Walking With in North Tyneside.   


In 2019, 
VODA secured funding for a new partnership – Ending Loneliness in North Tyneside  to bring together like minded organisations to work in collaboration to tackle social isolation and loneliness in the borough Over the next four years VODA, Age UK, Citizens Advice and North Tyneside Carer’s Centre will be increasing our capacity to deliver services that improve people’s wellbeing and increase their connections within the community. Whether it’s volunteering, attending groups or engaging in social activity, each organisation in the partnership can provide a wide range of activities for all ages to reduce feelings of loneliness.  The partnership launched in Killingworth on Thursday 6 February as part of ‘Time to Talk Day’ 2020. 

VODA’s Ending Loneliness Project coordinator has also been working to identify new ways of working when tackling social isolation and loneliness. North Tyneside has a wealth of activity and community groups available to residents, but information can prove difficult to find. That’s why the partnership keen to increase awareness and public engagement with the SIGN Directory.  

The SIGN Directory is an online directory of over 200 providers of community services and events for the residents of North Tyneside. Based on the information available on the SIGN, Directory, VODA has produced the first in a series of ward-focused information booklets which list activities based on health, socialising, volunteering, learning and mental wellbeing. ’Things to do in Wallsend and Howden’ is available via GP surgeries, community venues, local libraries and the VODA website, with leaflets for other wards currently in development. 

Happy to Chat is another initiative that launched this winter. VODA is working in collaboration with members of the SIGN Network and Whitley Bay Big Local to develop Happy to Chat schemes across North Tyneside to help reduce loneliness and social isolation. The aim is to recruit volunteers who are willing to Chat Happily with other residents who would like company or conversation. The aim is to encourage people to show kindness to one another, take time to listen to others and make connections in the local community.

Volunteers will wear Happy to Chat badges so that people know they can approach them to chat. The scheme will then hopefully be extended to include cafes that are willing to host a Happy to Chat table on a regular basis, with volunteers available to sit and chat with people who would like to chat. Launch events were held at the end of January at the Beacon Centre in North Shields and Whitley Bay Big Local, with fortnightly events (Tuesdays 10am to 12pm) held at the Beacon Centre and regular events at Whitley Bay Big Local

To find out more email admin@voda.org.uk or call 0191 643 2626.  

You can search for activities and events on the SIGN Directory here

 

 

 

Read more

How being a Good Neighbour can really make a difference

As part of North Tyneside Council’s #WhoCares week, we want to share this lovely Good Neighbours case study with you to show the difference volunteering can make to both the volunteer and the beneficiary’s life…

Janet Ross Good Neighbours VolunteerFor many years Janet Ross from Forrest Hall had informally helped her local community alongside her full-time job. However, after taking early retirement, Janet took the step to sign up to volunteering through VODA as a way of keeping active in the community and meeting some new people.

She joined the Good Neighbours project in early 2019 with the aim of helping someone locally with odd jobs typical of a ‘Good Neighbour’. VODA supports and trains volunteers to become Good Neighbours and carry out small jobs for people in North Tyneside who are unable to do them independently.

Janet offers to do little jobs for people, such as picking up little bits of shopping or dropping round soup on a cold day. She fits volunteering around her busy schedule and says that while these tasks take hardly any time out of her day, they actually make a big difference to the people she visits.

Janet likes that she can be of practical help, which can help bring communities closer. Speaking of her experience visiting housebound older people, Janet says: “I am inspired by people’s resilience to hardship and their acceptance of difficult situations. This is something that drives my passion for volunteering as I can use my skill base to make a difference to people’s lives. Although I initially signed up to help people in my local area, I have since found that I get more out of volunteering than I could have ever imagined.”

In addition to odd jobs Janet decided to take on some regular tasks for Good Neighbours. VODA’s Good Neighbours project worker, Ian Brigstock, matched Janet with Joan who is of a similar age and lives close to her home in Forrest Hall. Joan finds getting out of the house difficult so Janet visits her weekly. With some support and a friendly face to rely on, Joan and Janet have been able to take trips to The Rising Sun Country Park and local cafes for lunch.  The two have developed a unique bond through Good Neighbours and Janet plans to take Joan to a Motown dancing event in November, something which Joan hasn’t been able to enjoy for many years.

Joan was referred into Good Neighbours through the re-ablement team for some social contact as she had struggled with agoraphobia for many years.

The pair meet regularly every week and Joan says: “Ian (Brigstock) could not have done a better job at matching me with Janet as she is the same age and has a number of similar interests. Janet has become someone that I can trust; I struggle with anxiety and find leaving the house difficult. Janet has been a great support in helping me tackle my anxieties; she is always there to calm me down when things get too much.”

Janet and Joan often take trips out into the local community for lunch or social activities, and Joan is confident that Janet won’t leave her alone if she becomes anxious when out and about. Janet has played a big part in pushing Joan out of her comfort zone and building confidence.

Janet has supported Joan to use the computer to get quotes for repaving her garden; the work has since been done and has transformed the garden into a space that Joan and her little dog can enjoy spending time in. Janet will be teaching Joan the basics of gardening and helping her to plant spring bulbs. In return Joan has helped Janet with jigsaw puzzles and given her bags of apples to bake with. Joan has such a caring nature and by being able to help Janet with small odd jobs has boosted her confidence and self esteem massively.

Joan commented that: ‘We have become genuine friends through the Good Neighbours project. I admire Janet so much, she gives me hope when times are difficult. But is not just about that, because we’re friends now we help each other out, it’s nice to be able to give something back and offer support to Janet should she need it. I’ll often pop round to collect her for a trip out or offer help with projects. I tell myself regularly – If Janet can do it, I can do it…. she gives me inspiration and I can’t thank her enough.”

Janet commented: “I’m so pleased with the support from Good Neighbours during my volunteering. I meet up with other volunteers on a regular basis and it’s wonderful to feel valued and part of a group who care about the community.”

This winter, if you’ve got a spare couple of minutes, why not check in on an older neighbour?  Your visit to see if they need any shopping or help clearing their icy pathways could really make their week.

Contact a Good Neighbours worker on 0191 643 2626 or email admin@voda.org.uk.

 

Read more

BBC Radio Newcastle features Good Neighbours

We were delighted that the BBC Radio Newcastle Breakfast Show was able to join our Good Neighours shopping trip last week. They spent the morning chatting to our shoppers and volunteers to find out more about how this wonderful project helps to support people stay in their own home and keep their independence. You can listen to the feature from last week’s show below. If you would like to get involved, please contact us for more information.

Good Neighbours on BBC Radio Newcastle, 28.6.19 from Robin on Vimeo.

Read more