Between 2014 and 2017 we will be working across the County to build networks of people and organisations who are willing to be active friends and neighbours to care homes and their residents.

We have in mind not only people who are interested in volunteering to befriend or share their interests with residents, but also those who might help with events or support the care homes in other ways. For example, they might help to save staff time by building and maintaining links with organisations such as schools, youth groups, colleges, interest groups (e.g. music, photography), faith groups etc. on behalf of the home. We would also like to explore the resources available from local businesses for sponsorship of events etc. and direct support, for example from garden centres etc.

We are particularly interested in the possibility of helping care homes to meet the needs and wishes of individual residents who may like to pursue or share a particular interest, or who may appreciate a visitor who is able to help them or share with them a specific interest or activity.

We will also look for opportunities for residents who may wish to contribute to the local community, for example by helping members of youth groups with badges, hearing young children read, helping with local history projects.

We intend to make it as easy as possible for care homes to take advantage of the opportunities presented by FaNs. Participation is entirely voluntary on both sides and it will be up to the “FaNs” what they choose to offer and to which local homes. Participating homes will need to be willing to make the volunteers welcome and they may also like to offer something back to the community, such as the use of a room for occasional meetings of local groups etc. The more reciprocity develops between the homes and the FaNs, the more productive will be the relationship. This will also be an opportunity to raise public awareness of the work of the care homes and counteract some of the negative publicity surrounding them. With your help, we can make the networks work for the residents and for the homes in which they live.

It will take time to establish FaNs networks all around the County. However, if you like the idea, need more information or would like to contribute your ideas, we look forward to hearing from you.