Today, Friday 13 November, marks World Kindness Day 2020, an “attempt to make the world a better place by celebrating and promoting good deeds and pledging acts of kindness, either as individuals or as organisations” and Ross Good Neighbours (RGN) knows one or two things about selfless acts of kindness. The scheme is supported by an amazing team of Neighbourhood Buddies who volunteer their time to help lonely, vulnerable or isolating residents in the community, shopping and delivering to residents on a weekly basis.
World Kindness Day was first launched in 1998 by The World Kindness Movement, an organisation formed at a 1997 Tokyo conference of like-minded kindness organisations from around the world. There are currently over 28 nations involved in The World Kindness Movement which is not affiliated with any religion or political movement. The mission of the World Kindness Movement and World Kindness Day is to create a kinder world by inspiring individuals and nations towards greater kindness.
In Ross-on-Wye, the Ross Good Neighbours’ scheme was set up at the end of 2019 as the first project of the Ross-on-Wye Community Development Trust and led by Ross Town Council’s previous mayor, Jane Roberts. Its aim was (and is) to provide support to those in the community who were lonely or in need of assistance with daily chores. Whilst the pandemic took hold in March, the project was put on hold whilst the volunteers regrouped to set up a much-needed shopping service for those self-isolating from coronavirus. As the lockdown restrictions eased at the end of August the Neighbourhood Buddy scheme was able to continue as previously intended and the volunteer team now has around 20 buddies who dedicate their time to helping their neighbours.
Ian signed up to be a Neighbourhood Buddy back in 2019 and completed his training, which all buddies must do before working in the community. “I love being a Neighbourhood Buddy”, says Ian, “you achieve real satisfaction through giving your time, which is far more personal than money which is limited. The social interaction we get from this is just great”. The volunteers all agree that by joining the team, they not only have a huge impact on people living locally who are unable to perform daily tasks themselves, such as shopping, light DIY or basic gardening – but it’s also a chance to meet new people and widen their social circles.
Chris also joined the team in 2019 and commented that she really enjoys being a Neighbourhood Buddy – “it’s rewarding in so many ways – you get to meet people, make new friends and help others” which is the very essence of the scheme. Liz also works on the shopping team and told us that “it’s good to feel part of a team and to be given the chance to help people who need it”.
Many buddies know how difficult it is for elderly residents to get out and about, particularly when many are nervous about socialising during the pandemic. Jilly told us “My elderly parents live 200 miles away and are relying on a similar service locally. I keep telling them to stay home. This was my chance to give something back to those on my doorstep and keep neighbours safe”.
If you would like to join the Ross Good Neighbours’ Buddy scheme – or if you know someone who you think would benefit from receiving support – you can call the dedicated volunteer Helpline on 01989 313002 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information and updates are available on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rosscdt) or you can follow us on Twitter (@ross_cdt).