Navigating Self-Isolation in North Tyneside

If you are asked to self-isolate, it is important that you follow the advice which is there to help keep you, your loved ones, and your community safe.

We know that, for many people, self-isolation is not easy. Not being able to go to school or work and missing out on seeing friends and family can be really challenging for our physical and mental health.

It can be hard work understanding and abiding by every rule, especially when things seem to change so often. However, it is now a legal requirement and you can be fined if you do not self-isolate when you are asked to.

We hope that this guide, Navigating self-isolation in North Tyneside, which has been created by VODA – in collaboration with North Tyneside Council – provides you with some useful information to help you stay safe whilst self-isolating. We want to thank you for everything you are doing to help reduce the spread of Coronavirus in your community.

Printed copies of this magazine will be available at the new Riverside community testing hub. Feel free to share and download the online version with anyone you feel would benefit.  We will beat this together.

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Working With the VCS goes virtual

Monday 15 June saw our first ever online ‘Working With the VCS’ event bringing together 34 representatives from charities, community groups, North Tyneside Council, North Tyneside CCG, Primary Care Networks, VONNE, the North of Tyne Combined Authority and the private sector.

The theme of the event was Building a Recovery Plan for the VCS in North Tyneside and consisted of the following presentations which you can now view and download using the links below. You can also share your thoughts on VCS Recovery by completing this short survey by 26 June.

Vonne’s Carol Botten presented findings from VONNE’s North East VCSE COVID-19 impact survey.  Download the slides here.


Felicity Shoesmith from North Tyneside Council outlined the early thinking on a recovery plan for the VCS in North Tyneside. View the draft recovery plan here. We would appreciate it if you could share your thoughts on the draft recovery plan via this short survey


Pauline Wonders from Family Gateway and Dean Titterton from YMCA North Tyneside reflected on the potential for a more collaborative approach to supporting beneficiaries.


Jackie Laughton from North Tyneside Council discussed the new Poverty Intervention Fund for North Tyneside. Download the slides here. Share your thoughts on this fund by emailing [email protected].


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Reflecting on VODA’s #iwill project success

For the last two years VODA’s #iwill project – funded by the Virgin Money Foundation and part of the national #iwill campaign – has brought digital and media volunteering to young people aged between 14 and 20 (up to 25 with additional needs or disabilities) in North Tyneside.


During the two years 54 young people contributed 1,454 volunteer hours in 20 social action projects and took part in 16 workshops from digital experts.

The project gave young people chance to learn a range of digital and media skills such as photography, film-making, social media, campaigning, blogging and more, and to use those skills to create campaigns around issues that mattered to the volunteers. The programme included regular, facilitated workshops, group sessions and the opportunity to contribute to the Today From Us creative agency that was set up by #iwill volunteers.


Just prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic the group were in the process of planning their end of project event, putting together all of their skills and experience gleaned from their participation in the project. Whitley Bay Playhouse was booked and invitations sent out. They also produced a series of short films to be shown on the evening as well as producing a commemorative calendar.

The purpose of the event was to showcase the achievements of the project and provide young people and local organisations the opportunity to network and recruit young volunteers into their respective causes.

The #iwill project has seen a huge development of young people’s confidence and ability to perform new activities, which they have been able to use towards subjects that they really care about such as mental health and young people, poverty within the local area and challenging the negative stereotypes of young people.

Here is just a few of their achievements…

#iwill unfold

 The #iwill unfold campaign was created to encourage people to open up about their mental health. Inspired by Drummond Centrals ‘Social Media for Social Change’ four young volunteers identified a project around raising awareness of mental health. With the support of advertising, graphic design and web design experts they produced the campaign ‘I will unfold‘ . The group created an entire brand for their campaign with the purpose of encouraging local people to access mental health support and speak out about how they ‘unfold‘ . The group developed branded origami with inspiring messages. The origami has information for social media tags and their website address where people can find further information and advice about the support for mental health in North Tyneside. I will unfold particularly focused on raising the profile of local causes such as Launchpad North Tyneside, DePaul UK and North Tyneside Mind. as well as hosting events at World Mental Health Day and North Tyneside Art Studio. All in all hundreds of origami swans, butterflies and love hearts were made, branded and covered in quotes. These were given out across North Tyneside to spread a little hope.

#iwill unfold video

TyneMet College

#iwill worked with 30 young people from TyneMet College across two courses of Health and Social Care as an opportunity to empower young people to create digital content about issues they were passionate about. The students each did 30 hours of volunteering across ten weeks through #iwill which followed a process of ideas generation, team building, digital workshops and project management.

After splitting into smaller groups based on their interests and skill base, teams produced a total of seven digital social action projects to raise awareness within the college and the community.

  • LGBT stop motion video
  • Anti Bullying Stop Motion
  • Anti Sexism film
  • Discrimination film
  • Two videos for The Red Box Project North Tyneside raising awareness of the scheme within the college and advertising the opportunity to volunteer for the project.

‘When we were first planning activities for Entry and Level 1 students we wanted to have opportunities for the students to try something different, something that would take them out of their comfort zone as well as develop skills that would be useful both personally and for future employment. Engaging with the #IWILL project has developed a social conscience and enabled our students to develop many skills including their communication, problem solving, and interpersonal skills. In their groups they needed to learn to delegate tasks, working with people they may not normally work with and create something they felt confident enough to put on social media. It was an amazing project and one they accomplished so well. Students were participating in their groups, planning how to meet the brief and growing in confidence through the weeks.

“We are so proud of what the students have achieved and they deserved to be proud of themselves. This project was great, led by brilliant facilitator Josie (and others) who were encouraging and committed, this definitely helped the students to get involved.

“Overall, this is a great experience and taught the students so much about themselves; that they are capable and able to achieve so much in a short period of time. We will build on this in future lessons and tutorials to develop these skills even further.” Lucy Whibley, TyneMet College.

TyneMet College: Anti-discrimination campaign video

After exploring the issues people face in our area, the group decided to tackle the issue of discrimination and with the support of a local filmmaker produced a short film to raise awareness of this issue. The group also produced a poster campaign which has been displayed in classrooms across the campus to encourage victims of hate crimes to report them through the correct channels. This #iwill campaign was in collaboration with TyneMet College and Northumbria Police.

Here is their video…

TyneMet College: The Red Box Project North Tyneside

Entry Level students from TyneMet College took part in film making and editing workshops to create two films raising the profile of The Red Box Project in their college. The Red Box Project is a national campaign to end period poverty in young people that successfully lobbied the government to provide free period products in schools.

#iwill North Tyneside – RED BOX from Robin on Vimeo.

#iwill create / Today From Us

VODA’s social action worker and national award winning volunteer, Emma Ramshaw delivered a programme of skill- enhancing sessions that aided campaign development for the #iwill create young people. As a result of the sessions a team of 17 young people developed a digital marketing agency called ‘Today From Us’. Today From Us created digital content on behalf of the local sector about issues that were important to them. Local businesses offered up-skilling workshops on graphic design, elevator pitching, filmmaking and photography to aid their campaign development.  

Today From Us created their first independent campaign #i_weigh; inspired by actress and activist Jameela Jamil’s @i_weigh community. The group submitted images of themselves to the @i_weigh community and Jameela Jamil reposted their images on three separate occasions to her 710,000 followers on instagram and facebook 







Stop Loan Sharks

Today From Us worked on a campaign designed to raise awareness of the dangers of payday loans and loan sharks amongst young people. They created new posters and leaflets on behalf of the Illegal Money Lending Team’s Stop Loan Sharks campaign. The Illegal Money Lending Team provided a workshop overview of their core aims and set a the young people a strict brief to test their digital content development capabilities.  

Testimonial from Natalie Barker from the North East Stop Loan Sharks Team
“Wow I am blown away these are absolutely fantastic and the young people deserve a huge pat on the back.”


Rebrand of Creative Minds

Two young people involved with Creative Minds; a local organisation which provides support to individuals with sensory issues, Autism Spectrum DIsorder and brain injury took on the challenge of re-branding the organisation. Using their personal experience and supported by a local designer, the volunteers followed the process from concept to design to achieve the unique logo and new poster designs.

Rebrand of Tots Tea Rooms

Tyne Fresh

Meadow Well Connected asked Today From Us to help promote their new community produce service, Tyne Fresh. Tyne Fresh aims to encourage the North Tyneside community to support the local food industry through affordable, healthy and fresh produce. The young volunteers were asked to create a short film which promoted the new service as a means of engaging the local community, many of whom face a financial barrier to accessing fresh and healthy fruit, vegetables and meat.

Tyne Fresh also briefed Today From Us to design and create simple but effective recipe cards that offer quick and healthy options for families on a budget. The team was in charge of photographing prepared meals and ingredients that entice a new audience to buy into the Tyne Fresh scheme.

Be the change North Tyneside

Inspired by their impact on the environment around us, three young people sought to make a difference on a local level. After consulting with North Tyneside Council‘s environmental services and Plastic Free North Tyneside, Be The Change was created. Social media pages were set up with branded images and infographics sharing information about how small steps can make big changes to reducing plastic waste and reducing individual impact on the climate.

Support from local creative organisations

Mint Communications hosted a session on marketing and how to attract people using digital platforms and social media. This was to increase knowledge and understanding about what and how to share information on social media.

Venview 360 worked with the group on virtual reality, creating a virtual tour of Whitley Bay Big Local and a mannequin challenge. The feedback from the young people was really good:

For You Photography led a photography walk along the coast at Whitley Bay passing on skills and tips for getting more out of landscape photography,

The young people attended a comic drawing class led by Kevin F looking at ways a storyboard could be used to market and share a service for the community.

Drummond Central, Carrie Brookes Communications, Turn Coach, Peter Maughan, Emmanuel TV and Media Bourne also provided workshops. 

Feedback from young people volunteering on VODA’s #iwill project

‘I saw #iwill create and thought that it looked good, I like helping people and making a difference when I’m volunteering’ 

I enjoyed doing the elevator pitch session; we created something out of that which explains what we do. I have learnt skills in teamwork and project management, being able to develop a project from scratch is something that’s helped me develop a lot’  

‘I got involved for something to do, I wanted to get out of the house and get some experience. I have learnt skills in using different design software on a computer, communication and photography. Last year I ran my own campaign through #iwill and I have enjoyed coming down on a Thursday for this #iwill session. I am looking forward to people coming in like the loan sharks and setting us challenges.’  

I got involved because I wanted to help the community; I want to be able to help the charities that aren’t really advertised raise awareness’  

I have enjoyed meeting new and interesting people, talking to them and making new friends’ 

‘I came across VODA’s #iwill project on twitter, I decided to come along for the craic. I have enjoyed it and learnt new skills in logo design, photography and film making so far. We’re about to start our first proper campaign so that’s a work in progress.’  

‘I came to VODA to find out about volunteering and joined the #iwill project, I wanted to learn some new skills, meet new people and improve my confidence.  

Feedback from young people on skills development workshops 

‘We all had a laugh doing this workshop and we learnt how to use a proper SLR camera’.  

I really enjoyed being interviewed and answering questions.’  

‘I learnt about the rule of thirds and how to properly film interviews.’  

‘I learnt about radio mics and how to record with camera and use a tripod.’  

‘I learned new things and built my confidence up.’  

‘I enjoyed everything, it helped my confidence and it was a good team bonding sessions, I learnt more skills.’  

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A Little Box of Hope for North Tyneside

NT Life Boxes of Hope from Robin on Vimeo.

Participants of VODA’s NT LIFE Recovery College in North Tyneside received a special surprise at their door recently with the delivery of a Little Box of Hope to help support them through this challenging time.

NT LIFE – which is funded by the North Tyneside CCG – created 200 Little Boxes of Hope, each containing a series of exercises, contacts, poems and motivational quotes and a number of small gifts, each with an explanation of why they have been included have been collated and distributed with help from a number of volunteers, support from the team at One Below at the Silverlink and funding from the North East Suicide Prevention Network.

Over the course of the COVID-19 crisis, NT LIFE Recovery College worker Ali Donkin has had to completely rethink the support offered to participants. Part of the ethos of NT LIFE is the ability to come together to share experiences and learn how to manage our own wellbeing and mental health. However, the coronavirus has (temporarily) put a stop to these face to face activities.

Ali quickly adapted NT LIFE to ensure that she is still able to support those who need it via online resources, with the NT LIFE Facebook page becoming a central point of contact for daily support and resources. The Facebook page and website feature a range of online resources including the 11:11 Mindfulness 5 Minute mindfulness journal, downloadable activities and free courses, alongside home delivered activity packs from the team at VODA. The NT LIFE course facilitators have also created a range of online sessions accessible via video conferencing platform Zoom.

It became clear that some of the people involved in NT LIFE were finding the lockdown particularly difficult and so Ali decided to create a Little Box of Hope to help them through. Ali commented: “I created the Little Box of Hope firstly to reach out and let people know they are not alone and to help them through these challenging times. There is always someone on the outside thinking of them and willing to help. They have worth and value even if they don’t feel that way right now. If at the very least it makes someone smile for a moment, in spite of their anxieties and fears, then we really have achieved something important.”

Some of the items in the box are to give the person a moment to STOP and take time to adjust their thinking, to recognise these feelings are not permanent. There are also items that are metaphors, for example the yoyo – a distraction – the soothing motion of the yoyo on the string, but also a reminder of simpler times playing with childhood toys. The box also includes practical things such as the list of crisis contacts and helplines. There are tools and techniques for dealing with feelings and also some things that are simply humorous.

“I recall many a time when I have witnessed in myself and others how humour can bring us back from the brink,” says Ali.

What do we hope this box will achieve? Ali comments: “My deepest hope is that for anyone who really is at their lowest, is thinking seriously about ending their life, it stops them in the moment and offers an alternative choice. If it prevents even one suicide then this little box of hope will be priceless.”

Feedback so far has shown that the boxes have been well received:

“I was having a really bad day today in fact I was close to ending everything. I can’t describe how much it means to me. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. To know someone thinks enough to put something like that together and deliver it is the most amazing thing I have ever had.”

“Paddy and Linda Rogan are both in their seventies. I’ve been shopping for them for the last couple of months. Paddy has dementia so Linda can’t leave him and he doesn’t understand the social distancing policies everywhere.” 




“My sister has been living with mental ill health for 30 years and doesn’t get out much, lockdown or not. She really appreciated her box.”




“Thank you so much for my lovely gift and thoughts. It was so lovely of you. it moved me tears. You are a diamond. Is there any other stone more precious because if there is I’ll have to start calling you that one?”

“Just wanted to say a huge thank you for my box today. The box made me cry and made me feel so special. It’s absolutely beautiful and I will treasure it, thank you so much.”

“Thank you so much for the comfort packs for me and my mam, I don’t know if you know this but our cat was knocked over and killed early yesterday morning. We are going to use the box as a memory box for her.”

The boxes were collated and delivered by a team of volunteers, who also found that they benefited from the activity.  With volunteers commenting:

“On Friday for the first time in a long while I felt excited and involved.”

“Thank you so much for your help, support and the laughter we had on Friday packing the Little Boxes of Hope. It was an amazing day from my perspective and having delivered some of these over the weekend they are getting a great response.”





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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 [email protected].

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.

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Ending Loneliness in North Tyneside – Things to do in North Shields

As part of our Ending Loneliness in North Tyneside partnership – a four year collaboration between VODA, Age UK, Citizens Advice and The Carer’s Centre – we have created a new leaflet using the North Tyneside SIGN Directory highlighting the range of activities available in North Shields.

The leaflet, based on the five ways to wellbeing, gathers a range of local organisations into one place and aimed at individuals, professionals and groups. Copies are available in local GP surgeries, cafes, community centres and churches, or you can download a copy here.

This leaflet is the second in the series so far, following on from Things to do in Wallsend and Howdon. We hope that this leaflet will give a snapshot of activities available in the different wards; from social groups, craft sessions, peer support, sports sessions, advice and information.

Please share any feedback in relation to the leaflets with [email protected].

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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 [email protected]

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 [email protected] or call 0191 643 2626.  

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




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Lights, Camera, VCS Action…

VODA is planning to develop a short film showcasing the breadth and variety of important work delivered by the Voluntary and Community Sector in North Tyneside.

The film will be aimed at health professionals and will highlight how VCS organisations in North Tyneside actively contribute to and support the local health agenda.

We are looking for expressions of interest from a variety of VCS organisations, from small volunteer led projects to larger charities delivering in the borough.

We are interested in speaking to organisations that can show how they support people to:

  • Improve their mental health and wellbeing
  • Improve their physical health
  • Decrease social isolation
  • Gain new skills & confidence

We would also like to hear from organisations who work:

  • Collaboratively with other organisations
  • Who have identified gaps in health provision and have then created projects to meet need
  • Who currently work in partnership with health

If you feel that your project or organisation fits the bill and would like express an interest in being part of the film, then please get in touch with Claire Howard by Friday 31 January [email protected] or call 0191 643 2625.

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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 [email protected].


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Sector Connector special edition bulletin

The latest issue of the Sector Connector bulletin, aimed at Sector Connector business partners, was a special edition printed magazine, which was facilitated by our Sector Connector partnership with yourPrintDepartment.

You can read the full bulletin here.

If you would like to find out more about Sector Connector, please get in touch.

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