In 2012 Inkberrow Parochial Church Council (PCC) established a Good Company scheme for the village. Run through the parish’s Pastoral Care Network the aim of the scheme is to reduce loneliness and social isolation in the village by offering company and support on an informal basis.
Two volunteers within the village are available to drop in and visit with vulnerable people once or twice a week. Clients taking up the service most often self refer or are referred by a concerned neighbour and they are most often people who are feeling lonely, a bit low or who have been bereaved. The volunteers, who have DBS checks, are available to drop in for around an hour and talk and listen to the clients.
Social isolation and loneliness is a real issue, especially amongst older people in rural communities. Recent research has shown that loneliness can seriously damage both mental and physical health and schemes such as this can make a real difference in rural areas. As one volunteer puts it:
“ We are really keen that people in this village don’t fall through the net”.
Around eighteen clients have accessed the scheme since it started and have benefitted from the care and support that the Good Company Scheme has been able to offer.
Although this is an informal approach to providing support for vulnerable people the PCC takes it very seriously and has developed a framework within which the scheme operates. A copy of the framework can be found here. This is necessary to provide parameters for the volunteers to work within, a support structure for them as well as for the clients and, of course, reassurance for the clients that their situation is being considered fully.