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Good “Neighbours” needed to join valuable new network

26 February 2015

The Hospice of St Francis in collaboration with four other community organisations is looking for volunteers to help support isolated individuals in their own homes, as part of the new Herts Neighbours Network Project.

The role will involve giving a helping hand with a variety of jobs from shopping and driving to light cleaning as well as offering companionship and a listening ear to those living at home with a life–limiting illness or those who are elderly or isolated with complex health needs.

Thanks to a £110k award from the Cabinet Office, the collaborative initiative involving the Berkhamsted-based hospice, Peace Hospice Care, Herts County Council, and Herts Community Trust, aims to connect the community and bridge the gap of social isolation.

It is encouraging the wider community to share responsibility for providing compassionate support for patients at home at the end of their lives, rather than relying on health and social care professionals alone.

Polly Traxler, Rehabilitation Team and Social Work Manager at The Hospice of St Francis, said, “Complex needs are common amongst people who are at the end of their life and this extremely valuable project aims to reduce the reliance solely on professional care services, ease the load on families and prevent social isolation by harnessing the power of volunteers.

“Together with our other partners we are urgently seeking committed volunteers to join the Network and are holding an information day on 10th March, which is open to anyone who’s interested in finding out more.

“Anyone accepted as a volunteer will receive full training from the Neighbours Project team, before of course undergoing all appropriate safeguarding checks.

“Getting involved as a volunteer - for a minimum of two hours a week - is a great way to give something back and can make a huge difference to an isolated individual, helping them to feel supported and connected to their community and making all the difference to their wellbeing and quality of life.”

The project team is also starting to identify members of the community who would benefit from the new service, encouraging referrals from health and social care professionals as well as accepting self-referrals and taking recommendations from family and neighbours.

An informal Information Session will be held at Peace Hospice Care in Watford on Tuesday 10th March 2015, 10am – 12 to give interested volunteers more information about the project. This will be followed by a two-day training event on Tuesday 24th & Wednesday 25th March at Peace Hospice Care. A second two-day training event will take place at The Hospice of St Francis in June on a date to be confirmed.

To register your interest in volunteering or discuss how the project might benefit someone in the community, please contact the Herts Neighbours Network Project co-ordinators on 01923 330346 and hertsvolunteer@peacehospicecare.org.uk

"“Getting involved as a volunteer - for a minimum of two hours a week - is a great way to give something back and can make a huge difference to an isolated individual, helping them to feel supported and connected to their community and making all the difference to their wellbeing and quality of life.” "

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