'Lifeline' scheme for elderly in Eastleigh in danger of closing

Secretary Julia Allan, second right, with volunteers and clients, who desperately want the service to continue.

Secretary Julia Allan, second right, with volunteers and clients, who desperately want the service to continue.

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A NEIGHBOURLY scheme described as a “lifeline” to the elderly people in Eastleigh is in danger of closing if it cannot find volunteers in the next two months.

The Eastleigh Good Neighbours helps people who would otherwise struggle to get out and about, offering them transport alongside companionship through volunteer drivers.

But for it to function it needs people who can co-ordinate the drivers by taking requests and assigning jobs.

The charity has lost one of its three co-ordinators, who is taking on a different role, and with another set to leave in September that will leave only one person to man the phone.

Secretary Julia Allan said if they could not find volunteer co-ordinators by September they would not be able to cope and the service’s future would be under threat.

“I think we’re in danger of closing, really,” she said.

The Eastleigh Good Neighbours is entirely run by volunteers whose 15 drivers serve around 100 Eastleigh residents taking them shopping, to visit a loved one, to funerals, the post office and to medical or hair appointments.

Drivers wait for the client while they make their visit and will sometimes sit with them at the hospital or doctors and provide support if they have bad news.

It is not just for elderly people but anyone who would not be able to get around by themselves and cannot use public transport.

The driver tells the client how much the journey cost and clients give them what they can afford towards it – the rest of the mileage is reimbursed by the group.

Volunteers also provide help with gardening, DIY and minor repairs.

“It’s much more than just transport,” said Ms Allan. “It would be an enormous loss. For quite a small number of hours per week and in the comfort of your own home you could make a huge difference to people’s lives.”

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Volunteer co-ordinators could expect to work around 10 hours a week from home on a demand basis. The work involves accessing messages daily on a telephone and then ringing drivers to assign them the requested journeys.

Any phone expenses would be paid.

The group is always looking for volunteer drivers, too.

Anyone who can help is asked to call Julia Allan on 023 8090 2458.

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