IP17 Good Neighbour Scheme (IP17 GNS) was set up in just five weeks by a dedicated team in order to support the 5,000 residents in Saxmundham and Kelsale-cum-Carlton through the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. This community-led organisation relies on the selflessness and generosity of their 100+ team of volunteers in order to operate and provide help to everyone who needs it.
Like many rural towns and villages, this part of the county has a higher percentage of elderly and more vulnerable people than in many other parts of the UK. Funding received via the Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund has helped with the important work of this group, such as providing emergency food parcels or assisting with shopping deliveries, prescription deliveries for those self-isolating, shielding or quarantining, as well as setting up a phone buddy system in order to receive regular phone calls for a chat and to check in on anyone experiencing loneliness or anxiety.
Most recently this active Good Neighbour Scheme team launched the SAX Community Fridge, an initiative to reduce food waste in their community. The project, in conjunction with IP17GNS is open to all members of the community and sees food that otherwise would go to landfill, offered to people who can make use of it. Food collected from local supermarkets, businesses and individual donations will be taken home free of charge by ‘customers’ who can turn them into tasty meals instead.
When times have allowed over the past year, funding from the Foundation has also helped towards the set-up of some socially distanced summer activities using local instructors to help run free activities to enable people to maintain some fitness, or at least to enjoy some fresh air. Activities included Line Dancing, Family Rounders, Yoga and Nordic Walking. The team will look to reinstate these classes as they ease out of lockdown three, in order to help to restore and rebuild the lives of residents, bringing the communities together.
While IP17 GNS was originally set up to respond to the current crisis, the team of volunteers see this as a long term scheme which will continue beyond the pandemic, as they continue to look out for the people in this community in the future. They have great vision in wanting to extend their services. Well-being drop-ins will be set up for isolated and vulnerable people once they are allowed, in order to support those coming out of isolation as lockdown restrictions are lifted. Tech support workshops for the community; teaching & sharing skills that will help people stay connected and embrace post-covid life…learn how to use a tablet, CV writing workshops, social media skills etc. And a lunch club – informal groups serving up soup and a roll; a chance for people to reconnect to their community & find out about what additional support is available to them.
We are so grateful for the funding received from Suffolk Community Foundation.