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‘It gives you a good feeling to help someone’
A HELPING hand from a loved one and being able to get around in a car.
These are privileges we are all guilty of taking for granted from time-to-time.
But for some people, it is not that easy, and they may have no one to turn to when they need it most.
That is where Knutsford Good Neighbours come in.
The scheme began as a pilot project with help from Knutsford Lions Club to help elderly residents and people with mobility issues get to doctors’ appointments and hospital visits.
A network of around 50 volunteers take it in turns to act as coordinator, who then find available drivers.
The Good Neighbours sometimes help more than 10 people in a day, and over the past three years, they have averaged 1,000 trips a year.
“Most of our volunteers feel they are putting something back into the community and they are pleased to be able to do that,” said chairman David Tricker, 79.
“We’re well appreciated. I remember one of the first trips I did for the Good Neighbours was taking someone on a trip to hospital and she said: ‘What on earth would I do without people like you?’ It really gives you a good feeling.”
Knutsford Good Neighbours had modest beginnings about 13 years ago with a start-up loan from the Lions Club for £150. The community group was then successful in applying for a Lottery grant and health authority grant totalling £5,000.
It began as a scheme for patients registered at Toft Road surgery, but was soon extended for all three medical centres in the town.
Now drivers regularly take patients to hospital appointments, the dentist and opticians.
Some Good Neighbours are willing to go as far as north Staffordshire and Merseyside depending on where people are referred.
Others will help with other tasks such as shopping, DIY, emergency dog walking or even changing library books.
David, of Lindop Close, said: “If you’re in a couple, one helps the other, but when you’re on your own it’s not easy to get to these places.
“Knutsford has lost some of its medical facilities, and hospitals, in my view, don’t take into account that people are coming to them from out of town.
“If you have a car, it’s something you can take for granted but a lot of people don’t have a car or have had to give up driving.”
The other benefit of the scheme is that doctors’ time is freed up, which might otherwise have been spent on home visits.
David told the Guardian he has been used to helping people all his life as his brother John grew up with polio and was confined to a wheelchair.
He said it was ‘wonderful’ when the Good Neighbours received a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award in 2003 which is still on display at Knutsford library.
If you think you need the help of Knutsford Good Neighbours call 01565 631262. The group is always in need of more volunteers and funding. If you can help call David on 01565 634756 or treasurer David Jones on 01565 653536.