Neighbourhood Care Scheme

About the project

The good neighbour befriending scheme operates in nine neighbourhoods within the city of Brighton and Hove. Over 210 volunteers provide support to a similar number of older people and adults with physical disabilities helping them to get out of their homes, assisting them with their shopping and generally providing long-term companionship. In two of the communities, volunteers are also able to support carers.

The scheme is committed to providing long-term practical and social support to people, and its volunteers also help out with practical tasks too, such as form filling and dog walking. It accepts referrals (by telephone, email or post) from individuals who meet the eligibility criteria (people aged 60 or over who live at home and may be at risk of social isolation, adults aged under 60 with a physical or sensory disability or chronic condition, and carers from within the specific neighbourhoods), their families, their friends, voluntary organisations, and social and health care agencies.

The scheme is APS accredited and is funded by a mixture of individual donors and from the following places: Henry Smith Charity, DE Dodgson Trust, Sobell Foundation, Brighton and Hove City Council, Brighton District Nursing Association, Rotary Club of Brighton, The Hardship Fund, The George John and Sheilah Livanos Charitable Trust, Brighton & Hove Primary Care Trust, the Hove and Portslade Aid in Sickness Association.

www.bh-impetus.org/neighbourhood_care_scheme/index.php

Project aims

  • To provide long-term practical and social support to people aged 60 and over and adults with physical disabilities by finding local volunteers to help them in a variety of ways
  • To improve the quality of life of people aged 60 and over and adults with physical disabilities
  • To reduce instances of social isolation and loneliness
  • To give people the opportunity to help their neighbours

Project outcomes

For 2010/11, the Scheme’s target outcomes (based on achieved outcomes for 2009-10) are:

Outcome  Target for 2010-11
People (members) receiving volunteer support 230
People (members) benefiting from volunteer support 215
People feeling less depressed 99
People feeling more connected to local community 131
People more aware of falls risks and other health advice 700
Volunteers given opportunity to help their neighbours 200
Volunteers benefiting  from helping neighbours 186
Volunteers feeling greater self-esteem 70
Neighbourhoods with greater caring capacity 9

Impact on befriendees

  • Since April 2007, 333 people have received direct support from the Scheme’s volunteers
  • In 2009-10, 253 individuals accessed the Scheme’s support (received direct support from a volunteer):
    • 89% reported a positive benefit from the support received
    • 43% felt less depressed
    • 56% felt more connected to their local community
  • In the last year, five volunteers have taken up issues with care agencies around the quality of care received by the person they visit, and two Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Alerts have been raised with social services as a result of problems identified by volunteers.

Now I don’t have any family to visit. Alison and the children fill that hole.

Some scheme members have found real friends in their volunteers.

Impact on befrienders

  • Since April 2007, the Scheme has enabled 287 volunteers to help their neighbours
  • In 2009-10, there were over 200 volunteers active with the Scheme:
    • 95% reported a positive benefit from volunteering
    • 29% reported increased self-esteem
    • 65% felt more connected to their local community

Over five years we have developed a meaningful and personal relationship that means a lot to us.

Some of our volunteers have developed real friendships with the people they visit.

It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

- a volunteer’s view of her role.

Cost benefit / return on investment

Many of the benefits of the contacts between volunteers and scheme members are socially valuable, life-enhancing, health-improving, real and verifiable, but very difficult to assign a quantitative  value to. For example, scheme members have said that their volunteer makes their life worth living – what is the cost of a life worth living as against that of one that isn’t? However, it is possible to make a few indicative calculations.

In 2009-10, the scheme’s volunteers provided 9511 hours of direct support to individuals. Putting a cost on this of £8 an hour (the recommended rate of pay for home helps by our local Age Concern, gives a total of £76,088. Assuming that 89% of these hours were beneficial and assigning the same value to each hour of benefit (improved well-being), this gives a benefit worth £67,718. The figure of £8 per hour, however, is quite arbitrary as a measure of benefit. Also, the benefit may last beyond the time when the volunteer and scheme member are together.

Also in 2009-10, 44% of volunteers (91) reported doing something that helped prevent an accident. If assumed that these interventions prevented one hospital admission, which for arguments sake would cost around £2000, then the preventative monetary and health benefits are quite considerable.

The benefits of good neighbourliness are mutual, with 95% of volunteers reporting a benefit. And whilst it is not a primary aim of the scheme, it is certainly socially desirable.

The above costed benefits need to be set against the total expenditure of £126,913 for the year.

Personal impact statements

On returning from a family visit to Australia, Eve (then aged 86), found herself almost housebound following a hip replacement and the loss of vision in one eye.

She came across the Neighbourhood Care Scheme and was matched with Daniela, a young French woman who spoke perfect English and with whom Eve had many common interests including travel, languages, music and learning. Eve, a former teacher, found Daniela a great help to her with computer skills; helping her to overcome many difficulties and giving her the confidence to begin writing her autobiography.

Recently Eve suffered a fall and lost the sight in her one good eye but thanks to the continuing visits she receives from Daniela, Eve is able to carry on with her computer skills and is progressing with her autobiography.

Eve (now into her 90s) says:

There are still so many words to be written. Thank you to Sean (Co-ordinator) for introducing me to such a good friend. She has helped me bring my past into the present.

Daniela says:

People do voluntary work for all kinds of reasons: gaining new skills, as a stepping stone to employment, the wish to help others and make a worthwhile contribution to their community. Volunteering can help boost someone’s confidence and esteem too.

The relationship started as one between volunteer and scheme member but has developed into a friendship based on mutual support, which has given Eve the confidence to embrace many new technologies and embark on writing a book for children, and has encouraged Daniela to launch her artistic career as a painter and sculptor.

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