Spotlight on Glenholt

Sitting on the ‘edge’ of Plymouth, close to the moors, there has been a strong sense of community in Glenholt for many years. In 2019 it was strengthened when the Glenholt Community Hub rallied residents to save their Post Office. Since then the formation of craft groups; choirs and coach trips have helped to provide more ‘social’ opportunities and create both new and stronger relationships within the area. Early last year, as news of the severity of the coronavirus increased so the Community Hub evolved into the Glenholt Good Neighbour Scheme. As the chair of both organisations, Denise Mills says it was clear what was needed even before the first lockdown was announced:

“We printed a thousand newsletters, put them through letter boxes and appealed for volunteers to sign up to help look after those most-vulnerable in Glenholt. It was amazing, about fifty people signed up.”

More than a year later and the small army of volunteers has racked up the delivery of nearly five hundred newspapers; collected hundreds of prescriptions; walked miles with dogs of all shapes and sizes and spent numerous hours chatting on the phone with those who are socially isolated or in need of some company. Gwen Mace who will be 86 in July, has hardly seen anyone for a year. The Good Neighbours Scheme, she says, and its lovely volunteers have been marvellous;

“I haven’t had to do any shopping,” says Gwen. “People have been picking up my prescriptions and delivering them to me and it’s really been invaluable. It’s also helped my family because it’s meant they haven’t had to worry about me so much because they know someone is looking out for me.”

The Glenholt Good Neighbours Scheme has taken more than 1250 phone calls from individuals since the pandemic began. Recognising the need to continue the community support, Denise has helped to set up the “North Plymouth Compassionate Friends Hub” as part of the St Luke’s Hospice Compassionate Friends initiative. About four or five of the existing volunteers have begun training with St Luke’s so that they might support people at ‘end-of-life stages’ or offer support to those who have been bereaved. Plans are underway to have, post-lockdown, a regular compassionate café taking turns to be in different areas of North Plymouth. For Denise, working with St Luke’s is an obvious fit;

“I think it will be a blessing really,” she says. “Here in Glenholt, we have an ageing population with many residents on their own for about 95% of their time. I think it’s just going to bring them that little bit of warmth and encouragement.”

Photo credit: Gwen Mace