Byfield Village Good Neighbour Scheme is a real Game Changer 3 Jun 2020
The aim of Byfield Good Neighbours is to help everyone #Stayhome #SaveLives
As a Buying Agent for Stacks Property Search, Rachel Johnston, Regional Director for Northants & Bucks, always has ‘good community’ on her clients’ wish list. The only problem now is that she might want to move all her future clients into her own village!
Having established a Good Neighbour Scheme in 2019 to do the ‘odd job’ and provide some friendly companionship to the elderly, the CoVid crisis has shifted the scope of the volunteers’ remit : from initially supporting those shielding to do so safely, the Byfield Good Neighbours has evolved in to a colossal community effort.
We're cooking up soup's to support the village
Rachel comments “Those who needed support to stay safe have obviously benefitted, but we’ve managed to go further and bring the community together in new ways. We’ve delivered well over 1000 prescriptions and 500+ shopping requests, as well as bulk buying flour and fruit and veg for everyone to participate in. Local makers are selling their produce through us and we’re making use of overflow food from supermarkets by cooking up soups, ratatouille and more to support some of the village as joblessness has begun to bite.
600 nice surprises have been given out
With over 600 ‘nice surprises’ – a cake, a scone, a pot of jam – being given out around the village, hopefully everyone has felt part of the village whether they were technically ‘in need’ or not, and we’ve received some lovely messages from grateful family and friends of our villagers who can ‘remotely support’ their loved ones via us -organising their food, arranging birthday treats, etc.
Our website hosts weekly quiz rounds, village ‘scavenger hunts’, bedtime stories read by grandparents and a ‘Share our Shed’ exchange and lots more, with a weekly newsletter to match.
70% of the village are now involved
It has inspired others to do things like set a ‘plant & seed exchange’ which is a roaring success and 70% of the village (over 400 households) is now involved in one way or another – delivering, shopping, baking, making, donating or receiving. The feedback has been that the ‘being involved and doing things for others’ has been a fantastic boost for the villagers’
mental health in terms of being able to regain some little bit of ‘control’ in the face of something so daunting.
Fingers crossed that all our new volunteers stay involved beyond the current situation, and we can see how we continue to evolve the Scheme to keep everyone included and involved in village life.”
Mother and daughter six months ahead of the game
Rachel Johnston Regional Director of Stack Property Search and her mum, have set up a village Good Neighbour Scheme in October, little did they know that they would be thanking their lucky stars within 6 months! Rachel liked the idea of ‘help and be helped’ with the emphasis that there is something that everyone can do for others, even if they need a bit of help on other things!
The whole village getting involved
Rachel comments, “thank goodness Byfield as a whole village stepped up to support the Scheme in its modest beginnings, as it meant that we could scale up very quickly to help the village, both those isolating and those distancing, developing a ‘Volunteer Protocol’ – a system where we can continue to help our neighbours without increasing the risk of infection for them or for us”.
Rachel has co-ordinated a 1+1 Shopping Group’ on WhatsApp with 43 ‘hunter/gatherers’ – orders come in centrally, the group is informed and if they are out doing their own family’s shopping, they get ‘1 for them, and 1 for the Scheme’.
Prescription phone orders being delivered
The ‘Shopping Captain’ collates and arranges deliveries around the village each afternoon and additionally will be delivering the phone orders from the village Co-op. They have been collecting prescriptions for villagers for months, but now they do a daily round from the Surgery to reduce footfall at the surgery building. There is also a dedicated car, which is cleaned between trips to take some villagers for their surgery for appointments.
Sharing baking ideas
Rachel is setting up a website, this will enable to share the village’s ideas for ‘remote, together’ activities such as Skype Family Fortunes competitions, their next initiative is ‘Share our Shed’. If you have a blocked drain suddenly in the coming weeks, they can put out a request, everyone can check their shed for drain un-blocker, and a night-time ‘end of drive’ pickup will be arranged. Self-isolating villagers and volunteers are still enabled to be included, for example, in sourcing useful items for the wide group to deliver – e.g. printer paper, or board games (after a suitable period of quarantine!) – or chatting to others in the same situation. We even have a 93 year old who has offered to chat to young mums struggling to invent a meal from their pantries!
Villagers are comforted by the support.
It’s now a full time, 7 day a week job for Rachel, and the whole community is stepping up. We’ve been amazed at the upwelling of support and the villagers have been comforted to know that there is someone out there to turn to, as are their families stuck at a distance.
The Northants Good Neighbour Schemes have been supported with money and guidance from Daventry District Council and Northants ACRE has resources available for volunteer organisations scrambling to help.
Byfield Good Neighbour Newsletter
Read here the latest news of all the great initiatives that are being undertaken by the village volunteers