Be nice to your neighbours so they are not left isolated, rural Suffolk villagers urged
PUBLISHED: 16:55 25 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:08 26 May 2019
People in one of Suffolk's most rural and potentially isolated areas have been urged to look out for their neighbours as a new group was set up to help those at risk of being cut off from vital services and human contact.
Snape and Rendlesham are the latest villages to form their own Good Neighbour Schemes, where volunteers help those living nearby with tasks around the house, regular contact or simply daily friendship.
More than 35 similar networks have been set up across the county by Community Action Suffolk, with the aim of bringing back good old traditional values of helping out your neighbours.
But as the Snape and Rendlesham schemes were officially launched on Saturday, May 25, Sally Connick - Good Neighbourhood Scheme development officer at Community Action Suffolk - warned that "communities have to come together" to support those who may be vulnerable.
She added: "They have got to work together and make sure there is strength in numbers and that people can still access services and get to the shops and hospital, so that everyone has someone to call upon.
"In villages where there isn't a Good Neighbour Scheme, if you haven't got friends or family nearby to rely on then you could be really isolated."
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There are fears over what Suffolk's rural nature could mean for its residents in the future, with 40% of the population in the county living rurally - compared to the rest of the country where that figure is 25%.
Its elderly population is rising faster than anywhere else in the United Kingdom, with the number of over-65s due to grow by 47% by 2037 - from 748,000 today to more than 1million in less than 20 years.
Organisations like Age UK Suffolk have warned of huge problems with loneliness in the future, saying it "will kill more people than cancer or smoking".
But Mrs Connick said: "Good Neighbour Schemes are a bit like the glue that brings stuff together.
"They are really good at connecting together different parts of the community. They also look at what's missing.
"It's bringing back traditional values of how you help out your neighbour."
On Saturday, volunteers for the Snape and Rendlesham Good Neighbour Schemes also took part in a workshop called Safe and Sound to help them understand what to do if they have concerns about somebody they are supporting.
For information about establishing a new Good Neighbour Scheme in the county, or to find out about current groups, contact Mrs Connick on 01473 345359.