Good Neighbours Scheme

What is the Scheme all about?

Identified in the Parish Plan survey conducted in 2004, a band of people volunteered to get the Tattingstone Good Neighbours Scheme on the road. Whilst the main thrust of the scheme has been to assist villagers of all ages in Tattingstone to get to places where they would otherwise have difficulty due to lack of available public transport, the Scheme also aims to help with shopping, collecting of prescriptions/pensions, checking smoke alarms, minor domestic repairs, help with pets, filling in forms or just someone to talk or chat with. The service is provided free but there is a charge of 40p per mile (calculated on the round trip) to cover costs of petrol etc for the driver.

The number of initial volunteers for the scheme was overwhelming and remains the highest take up in the records of Suffolk Acre under whose umbrella the Scheme operates. Every volunteer on our books has had a CRB check which is important because they will be helping elderly and vulnerable people, going into homes, or may occasionally be asked to give a child a lift. Because of the cost associated with this we have not been able to register everyone who initially volunteered, but we will be adding to our “band” now that the scheme has become firmly established.  The scheme was initially funded by a grant from Babergh DC but has since been kept going by one or two fundraising activities and a donation from the Parish Plan Action Group. Through Suffolk Acre we have had approaches from other villages to offer advice in starting up their own schemes.

The Scheme has now been running for almost four years under the Chairmanship of Josephine Stanger who would like to thank all of those volunteers who have given their time freely to assist those who have needed our assistance. Statistically we are running at around two calls per week and we would estimate that we have covered over 1000 miles between us. The call outs are mostly for transport needs – to the shops, the doctors, hospitals, hairdressers or to the station. The furthest we have had to go is a trip to Bury St Edmunds. We have also had the occasional call out to help with computer problems, a bit of gardening and to investigate a suspicious person knocking at doors without identification which our local police dealt with very efficiently. Number-wise 2008 saw just over 100 jobs whilst there were 116 in 2009.

We have produced an annual calendar with the Good Neighbours phone number prominently displayed and using, as a background to the dates, pictures entered into the Photo and collage competition at the restored annual fete, also suggested in the Parish Plan. This year’s calendar features entries from the children of Tattingstone School.

It is a very rare occurrence for us not to be able to deal with a request, although sometimes it involves several phone calls. Sometimes we might have to split the journey so that one volunteer takes and another collects. We have to remind everyone that this is a voluntary organisation and they should be patient if sometimes the phone is unattended – we do have other commitments and it is sometimes necessary for the phone to be placed on “silent” but missed calls are always dealt with as soon as we can. For this reason it is very important to give us as long notice as possible as we can then plan things accordingly. We are not an emergency operation although we will do our best for those matters which crop up unexpectedly.

We have a rota for our phone holders but this is sometimes put to the test due to trips abroad, business commitments etc so it would be useful to procure one or two extra people willing to act in this fashion. It is rather akin to a taxi operator in that it involves taking down the tasks required and finding a matching volunteer to carry them out.

Finally, please pass the word around. I am sure there are others out there who could benefit who may not know, or who may not realise it is for them. The number to ring is 07895 052086

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