CaddingtonCare had fairly modest beginnings back in 2009 but it’s blossomed into a vital community service with more than 80 volunteers.
And at the heart of this charitable organisation is . . . a briefcase which acts as an office.
Spokeswoman Pat Isger elaborates: “It contains a mobile phone and lots of lists! And our ‘office’ is open from 9am to 4.39pm five days a week.
“The briefcase stays with the phone holder for one day. He or she matches a caller/client with a volunteer, who will arrange the job with the client.” The briefcase is then passed on to another CaddingtonCarer. And the system works surprisngly well.
Elderly and disabled callers ring with a variety of requests including lifts to the hospital, dentist or hairdresser, collecting prescriptions or occasional shopping.
Volunteers also undertake small tasks such as dog walking, form filling and befriending.
Pat says: “We currently have around 200 clients on our books, ranging from those who have one-off jobs to others with ongoing needs.”
CaddingtonCare came into being with a little help from the Beds Rural Communities Charity (BRCC) which had started to roll out a programme of Good neighbour schemes, mainly in the north of the county.
It began with a steering group of 12.
After the first year, they decided to reach out to the wider community and introduced a weekly coffee morning on a Monday from 10am until 12. This really took off and today attracts more than 50 people who come for a chat and a piece of homedmade cake.
Pat explains: “It serves its purpose in bringing the elderly and/or lonely together and is open to all.”
They also hold seated exercise classes which are very popular and have recently started a men’s group on a Thursday morning.
In addition they organise annual Christmas singalongs and summer parties with food and entertainment, as well as walks, garden centre visits and trips on a specially-modified canal boat (with a lift and disabled toilet) on the Grand Union Canal.
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