The Compassionate Neighbours project at Princess Alice Hospice has been running for two and a half years and we have made nearly 250 matches between our volunteers and local people in the community, who are living with a life-limiting illness and/or experiencing social isolation due to illness or bereavement. Here Lauren explains how the project has adapted in recent months.

During the early months of the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown(April – June), although face-to-face visits had to stop, over 50 matches were made to include telephone support, welfare check-in calls, help with shopping and medication pick-ups. These matches and previously-made matches have all continued despite Coronavirus. The calls have been a valuable source of interaction for some who have no family or friends visiting due to Government guidelines, giving each person a safe space to chat and be listened to.

This was a quote sent to us by a grateful community member:

“Our Compassionate Neighbour has no idea what he has done for us, he and myself are so appreciative to him, just as we are to all your kind caring people at the Hospice. They have no idea without them life would be far more difficult”.

Compassionate Neighbours have been valuable in reporting any concerns to the co-ordinators, letting the co-ordinators know if they can’t get hold of their community member allowing us at Princess Alice Hospice to check and make sure they are safe or needing medical assistance.

Compassionate Neighbours will one day again be able to help our community members to rebuild confidences which may have been lost due to illness or social isolation, to help empower them to do the things they enjoy – whether it be going out to do a shop, driving or just going out for a coffee. For some who are bed-bound it may be the only non-medical conversation they have all week. In the meantime we will continue to do what we have been doing, phoning and building connections and friendships and doing a bit of shopping for those in need.

Just because the restrictions are being lifted doesn’t mean Compassionate Neighbours are no longer needed; they will be needed more than ever as we slowly return to ‘normal’ and return to work.