THE Henley Good Neighbours scheme is a year old.
More than 20 elderly and disabled residents are looked after by the community service, which was launched in October last year by Liz Smith.
There are 35 volunteers who do everything from helping with shopping or transport to being a friendly face to have a cup of tea with.
Widower Viv Payne, of Mount View, was one of the first people to be helped.
The 74-year-old has been on his own since his wife Gwen died in 2010, so he was put forward by his daughter Lynne who thought he could do with some company.
Mr Payne was matched up with freelance project manager Linda Haines, who lives in Norman Avenue.
He said: “Once a week she comes and we have a chat and a coffee. She is great company and we talk quite a bit about travelling. I had a stroke 14 years ago and my wife took me all over the world in a wheelchair.”
The pair occasionally go to the Catherine Wheel pub in Hart Street for a drink and Linda’s husband Paul sometimes goes along too.
Mrs Haines said she normally spent about an hour with Mr Payne, often just to talk but also to help him use his computer.
“When Viv drops off to sleep I know I have stayed long enough,” she said. Mr Payne, who has lived in Henley for 12 years after moving from Sonning Common, said: “I am really grateful for Linda. It is companionship — and my daughters approve of her.”
Mrs Haines learned about Henley Good Neighbours at a volunteer fair in Market Place in July last year.
She said: “I was looking for something to get involved with and it seemed to be such a good organisation because it makes such a tremendous difference to people who are housebound.”
The scheme has extended its reach and now also serves Hambleden, Shiplake and Sonning Common.
Ms Smith, of Belle Vue Road, Henley, said: “I’m thrilled with the progress we have made in our first year.
“It’s wonderful to see the positive impact that Henley Good Neighbours is having upon our older residents receiving the service and upon our team of volunteers, who all enjoy the experience and get something back from the time they give up to be there for their resident.
“I genuinely feel that our team of volunteers is making a difference to isolated people by providing a helping hand and I hope that we can continue to make great progress in our second year.”
Henley Good Neighbours is supported by Henley Town Council, Henley Volunteer Bureau, Thames Valley Police, Oxfordshire County Council and Churches Together.
All volunteers are required to have a Criminal Records Bureau check.
For more information or to became a volunteer or client, or to nominate a potential client, call (01491) 572923 or email henleygood