Villagers create network to help neighbours in need

The Oxford Times: Ann Blake, left, gets a cup of tea from volunteer Eric Riley as scheme chairman Yvonne Milward looks on Buy this photo Ann Blake, left, gets a cup of tea from volunteer Eric Riley as scheme chairman Yvonne Milward looks on

A GROUP of villagers have decided that everyone needs good neighbours.

Residents of Radley, near Abingdon, have created a network to help their neighbours with doing the shopping, mowing the lawn or even just changing a lightbulb.

The Radley Good Neighbours scheme is aimed at the elderly, infirm, or anyone who could use some help.

Ann Blake, 75, who lives on her own in the village, suffers from osteoarthritis in her lower back, and can foresee a time when she could use a good neighbour.

She said: “I think it is the most wonderful thing. I am very enthusiastic.

“It will connect people who have time, energy and enthusiasm with those who do not.

“Where I live, in Lower Radley, sometimes it would be useful to have a four-wheel drive to get around when it snows.”

Similar good neighbours schemes have also been set up around the county, including Cutteslowe in Oxford, Kennington, Abingdon, Enstone and Chinnor.

So far, 12 Radley residents have signed up for the scheme.

Eric Riley, 81, started volunteering when he retired. He started as a driver for the Alzheimer’s unit of the Abingdon Community Hospital, and helped out at a disabled and elderly swimming class at Radley College.

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Mr Riley, a retired dental technician, said: “I wanted something to do, so I wasn’t just wasting away. I have done a lot of volunteering, but this is for my own neighbours in Radley. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction.”

The scheme was spearheaded by retired GPs’ practice manager Yvonne Milward, 61.

She said: “Radley is a village with a lot of good neighbours in it already, but there are more isolated people who need help.

“We have been delighted by the response to the scheme and we are grateful for the funding and support we have received.

“We will be able to help people in the village who find themselves in trouble.

“When a person is housebound because of bad weather they can phone and ask for someone to clear their drive of snow or go to the shops to get their shopping.”

The group was funded by Oxfordshire County Council, Radley Parish Council, Radley Village Shop, the Co-operative Bank and the National Grid. Mrs Milward said the group’s set-up cost was £900 – £350 on public liability insurance, and the rest on stationery and publicity.

All volunteers are CRB checked and carry photo ID.

  • To use the Radley scheme, or to find out more about becoming a volunteer, call Mrs Milward on 07716 460 162;
  • To find your local scheme, go to oxnet.org.uk and search for ‘good neighbours’ in the organisation name box at the top of the voluntary groups directory.

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