Helen Lawrence at the drop-in Seniors Connect Café at the Chilliwack IHOP. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress file)

Pilot project unites neighbourhoods in compassion

Volunteers and neighbourhoods are being sought for training sessions

Volunteers and senior-oriented neighbourhoods that are willing to actively care for their neighbours are being sought in Chilliwack.

The Compassionate Neighbourhood Health Partners Society is launching a pilot project to determine if acts of caring can improve the quality of life for local seniors.

“This is a pilot project that we hope we can carry out in three different older-adult neighbourhoods in Chilliwack, Sardis and in a First Nations neighbourhood,” said Connie Stam, CNHP coordinator.

The organization has received a New Horizons for Seniors grant to partially fund implementation of the pilot Neighbourhood Activation Project, officials are looking for help to get it going.

Training sessions for volunteers who would like to become “neighbourhood connectors” in their communities are starting in July, as well as for any volunteers interested in the training.

“We know that there are many acts of compassionate care already happening in many of our Chilliwack and Sardis neighbourhoods but if each neighbourhood would look carefully at the neighbours living in their neighbourhoods, they may still find that there are those struggling who may appreciate a small hand of practical or social support.”

Isolation can be quite common as people age.

“With our aging population and the mobility of our society, there are many older adults struggling on their own with a chronic condition, with frailty or in a stressful caregiving role.”

So they need volunteers — and communities to make it work.

“We are looking for neighbourhoods that would be willing to participate in this project to assess if these interventions will improve the interconnectedness and the quality of life of all the neighbours living in each neighbourhood.”

If successful, the project would branch out to other neighbourhoods.

They are seeking neighbourhoods of residents 45+, such as a gated community, a trailer park, a condo complex or an apartment complex. It can also be inter-generational to some extent, as long as the majority of the residents are 55 years or older.

“If a city or rural neighbourhood would like to participate and the majority in this neighbourhood are older adults, then of course we would also accept this neighbourhood in our pilot project!” Stam added.

But first they need to have trained volunteers and neighbourhoods that are willing to permit us to interact with the neighbours in their neighbourhood.

There will be six three-hour volunteer training workshops, that add up to 18 hours.

The workshops will run 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Mondays and Wednesdays of July 8 and July 10; July 15 and July 17 and July 22 and July 24. The training is free and can be taken by anyone without having to commit to volunteering beforehand.

“We only kindly request, that those taking the education, will commit to taking all six workshops.”

Contact the Compassionate Neighbourhood Health Partners (CNHP) Society at 604-798-2023 or neighbourhealth@gmail.com or see www.cnhpsociety.com

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