A PORTSMOUTH project that brings friendship and joy to lonely and isolated older people celebrated its 20th birthday on Friday (18 October).
The Salvation Army launched the Good Neighbours Project in Buckland and Landport with funding from Portsmouth City Council in 1999. It came about when The Salvation Army realised that many of the people it was visiting with its meals-on-wheels service needed company as well as a daily meal. And over the last 20 years the project has grown with volunteers now visiting and befriending lonely and isolated older people right across the city.
“The Good Neighbours Project has been making a positive impact in Portsmouth for 20 years with our volunteer befrienders providing friendship, company and a link to the outside world for many older people in our community”, said Ros Fraser who manages the project.
“As well as being a source of company, we also look out for and support older people to live safely and independently by providing helpful advice on issues such as avoiding falls around the home. And over the years, the Good Neighbours Project has expanded and runs a shopping service and a weekly coffee morning every Friday between 10.00am and 12.00pm at the Haven Community Centre coffee shop at 17 Lake Road where everyone is welcome”
Commenting on the 20th anniversary of the programme, Ros added: “The Good Neighbours Project does fantastic work and I would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the last 20 years - including Portsmouth City Council and our wonderful volunteers, to bring happiness and alleviate loneliness across Portsea Island”
“I have been volunteering for nearly a year. I visit my befriendee once a week for an hour or so. Sometimes we watch TV, but mostly we listen to music. Music helps to unlock his memories, almost instantly. Minutes before I arrive he can’t remember where he is, but as soon as I play his CDs, he lights up.
"He remembers every word and every drum beat. Once his brain is active, he then tells me stories from his past; meeting friends, dancing and the jobs he had. Finding music from his teenage years has helped him relive his memories” –Stephen, Good Neighbours Project volunteer.
The Good Neighbours Project currently supports 162 people with befriending or telephone support delivered by 62 volunteers. It operates in Buckland, Baffins, Copnor, Cosham, Drayton, Eastney, Farlington, Fratton, Hilsea, Kingston, Landport, Milton, North End, Old Portsmouth, Paulsgrove, Port Solent, Somerstown, Southsea, Stamshaw and Tipner.
The Good Neighbours Project held a 20th anniversary celebration event inside the Emirates Spinnaker Tower on Friday 18 October. Special guests were the divisional leader of The Salvation Army’s Southern Division - Major Gregory Morgan and the Deputy Lord Mayor of Portsmouth - Councillor Ben Dowling.
The Good Neighbours Project is looking for new volunteers and for further details about how to get involved please contact 02392 890 958 or email the project.