IT’S a lifeline to the community which is seeing a surge in demand.
And as it celebrates its 15th birthday, Emsworth Good Neighbours is more needed than ever before.
The last year has seen its 40-strong army of volunteers do more than 1,150 jobs for people – from taking them to hospital appointments, helping them on shopping trips, or just popping in for a cuppa and a chat.
As people tighten their belts, the service has become more popular, with the number of call-outs increasing three-fold over the last two years.
Val Caudeiron, 67, of Hollybank Lane, Emsworth, is the woman at the helm of the organisation.
She said: ‘When this started up in the first year we did about 150 tasks.
‘We are up to more than 1,100 tasks now. The last two years has seen a huge increase.
‘It’s hard economic times and I think taking a taxi everywhere is expensive for senior people.
‘It’s great that we are here. I know it’s a service very much appreciated in Emsworth.’
The bulk of the work is taking people to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester and Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.
Volunteers will often wait outside for the client for several hours and then take them back home.
Mrs Caudeiron, who was born in Portsmouth and lived in Canada for 34 years, said she wanted to help an organisation that made a real difference to people.
She added: ‘It is as much about the companionship that our volunteers offer as it about the transport.
‘Often people in our community live in isolated circumstances with little or no family in the vicinity.
‘A trip to the hospital can seem less daunting when you have a reliable, friendly face taking you to your appointment and taking you safely home again.’
To volunteer or receive help from the group call (01243) 430999.