The Hospice hosted Compassionate Neighbour volunteers and their community matches last month, when they came together to celebrate six years of success since the community scheme was launched at Princess Alice Hospice.

Developed by St Joseph’s Hospice in London, the Compassionate Neighbours scheme provides trained volunteers who offer friendship and regular, emotional and social support to people in their own homes who are lonely or socially isolated due to their own, or a loved one’s long term ill health or life limiting illness.

A Compassionate Neighbour volunteer with the person she meeets withVisitors chatted over tea and cake and shared their thoughts about the scheme: for some, that weekly visit is the only meaningful social interaction with a person they are likely to have, so the value of a reassuring chat over a cup of tea, a trip out to the shops or just a good old gossip about celebrities, is immense.

Compassionate Neighbours Lead at the Hospice, Ali, said: “Many thanks to those involved. Compassionate Neighbours contribute to the natural psychological needs we all have; that of having a sense of belonging, that life has purpose and meaning, and that people are seen and valued. Feelings of loneliness are a primal signal to reconnect with the tribe to feel safe and secure, and the Compassionate Neighbour programme, whether a volunteer or a supported Community Member, is a tribe to which we all belong.”

Director of Patient Care and Communities, Lesley Munro spoke about the numbers that demonstrate the success of the programme: the Hospice has made over 600 matches; trained 340 Compassionate Neighbours (along with 130 additional people during the Covid-19 pandemic to support with telephone calls and help with shopping and medication collection and delivery), and has almost 150 current matches in place.

All the support is provided free of charge. To find out more about becoming a Compassionate Neighbour or to enquire about one for yourself, please visit: Compassionate communities – Princess Alice Hospice (pah.org.uk)