Community hubs pilot scheme to help isolated residents

A NETWORK of volunteer-run community centres is being created to provide support for elderly and vulnerable people in isolated areas.

The £49,000 North Yorkshire County Council and Rural Action Yorkshire pilot scheme will offer preventative social care and early intervention, as well as activities such as luncheon clubs, gardening clubs, film groups, cafes, and good neighbour schemes.

If the scheme is successful at seven community hubs, including two in Cold Kirby and Husthwaite, near Thirsk, it will be offered to communities across the county.

It is hoped the hubs, which will in future be self-sustaining and offer services relecting communities’ needs, will break down patterns of isolation for residents.

Six groups of volunteers have already stepped forward and offered to run the hubs in their localities.

The council’s health and adult services chief, Councillor Clare Wood, said: “This is a tremendous example of communities working together and making a real difference to people’s lives.

“A lot has been said about the Big Society. This is a practical example of how it can work in reality, and benefit people in a practical and meaningful way.”

One hub is being developed in the village hall at Cold Kirby.

Becky McMurray, one of the trustees at Cold Kirby, said the village hall held the potential to offer more for the community.

She said: “Our surrounding area lacks social meeting places and opportunities, the village has a church service once a month, no shops or visit services, and the nearest inn is a couple of miles away.

“There is an increasing elderly population, for whom isolation is becoming a reality.”

The community hubs will be run by volunteers supported by a development officer from Rural Action Yorkshire.

Leah Swain, Rural Action Yorkshire’s chief officer, said: “In recent years we have seen big changes in the management of community buildings.

“There are some really forward-thinking people out there who have been able to come up with great ideas which will make a big difference to people in rural areas.”

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