How to reach out and make a difference in your community – even when you’re short on time!

The Neighbourhood Friends service is currently recruiting people to join their team of extraordinary volunteers, who since the launch of the service in October 2014, have given over 10,000 hours of their time to help older and vulnerable people living in their communities.

Westbank Community Health & Care, a charity based in Exminster, co-ordinates the Neighbourhood Friends service, which helps people who have either been discharged from hospital and need extra support to settle back home, or helps people to remain living independently, thereby avoiding admission to hospital.

The service has developed two roles for people who want to volunteer but are unable to make a regular time commitment. Rapid Response & Welcome Home volunteers are called upon to help people who live in their communities on an ‘as and when basis’ – for example to help with shopping for someone who has just been discharged from hospital.

To date the service has helped more than 2,000 people living in the Exeter area. Lucy de Garis, Head of Volunteering at Westbank, says “The service has really highlighted how small amounts of time can make such a big difference to people lives. A volunteer visiting someone at home following a stay in hospital, to turn the heating on, to do some shopping or just to sit and have a cup of tea makes the world of difference to someone who lives alone and has no family or friends to support them, at what can be a very anxious time”.

Linda Shannon, a Rapid Response volunteer, says “the great thing about it is that you don’t have to offer a regular time commitment, so it fits in well with my work and family life. I also get to meet some lovely people who are so appreciative of the small amount of help I give. It is so very rewarding”.

If you would like to pledge your support, we are currently recruiting Neighbourhood Friends volunteers in Exeter, East and Mid Devon. For further information on how you can help to make a difference in your community please call the Neighbourhood Friends team on t: 01392 823690 or e: neighbourhoodfriends@westbankfriends.org