Tuesday, 07 February 2012

Neighbourhood care groups Neighbourhood care groups and organisations provide an astonishing social resource which seldom penetrates the policy-media consciousness. Some I know a little about, such as Brighton and Hove Neighbourhood Care Scheme, and Tower Hamlets Friends and Neighbours (where I was a trustee for a while). Now, thanks to Bernard Leach, erstwhile head of sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University, I’ve been learning a little about a group which has been active in Chorlton, Manchester for 44 years. Chorlton Good Neighbours (CGN) was established in 1967 by local people and has evolved to become a well-established charity offering a range of services to local older people. It currently has over 250 users and 70 volunteers. The group offers a range of practical support including transport and odd jobs for example; and various activities such as exercise classes, cooking sessions, and trips out. CGN recently carried out their own research with a view to capturing the benefits that are generated by organising care collectively and providing a context for volunteers. The research was based on a survey which asked about levels of confidence to meet and socialise; health, well-being, independence and self-worth; sources of information and advice; sense of safety; and feelings of involvement. This exercise illustrates the great value in having high quality informal local arrangements for people in need of help and support. Take this quote for instance: ‘there is also a policy of ringing up people if for example, they don’t turn up for sessions they normally come to, or if a volunteer notices when delivering a newsletter that there is a lot of mail uncollected... We go the extra step, not just because it is the correct professional thing to do, but because volunteers and users know each other and care for each other.’ Or consider the chart below, which hints at the benefits felt from the range of activities run by the group: The report suggests that: ‘Overall, the evidence base points to the conclusion that CGN’s activities do change users’ attitudes, lifestyles and their mental and physical wellbeing. It is reasonable to go on to conclude that such care services can lead to significant savings for both the NHS and the Local Authority’s Social Services… Core activities such as home visits, wheelchair support, coffee morning, Sunday teas and day trips will remain at the heart of what we deliver as they provide a haven of friendship and support – neighbourliness – which enrich the lives of all those involved with Chorlton Good Neighbours.’ For more details about the report, contact Bernard Leach – btleach { at } gmail.com.

Recent Comments