GOOD Neighbour schemes are to be spread out across rural parts of North Yorkshire in a new pilot project to encourage communities to help themselves and each other.

The scheme by Rural Action Yorkshire and North Yorkshire County Council’s Stronger Communities programme will help set up volunteer groups to assist with household jobs, pick up prescriptions, offer lifts to the shops or doctors to just provide company.

Villages and market towns across North Yorkshire which want to set up Good Neighbour Schemes will be eligible for support.

They’ll be working with national partners who have been involved in other similar schemes across the country as well as with people from existing local schemes.

The county has been chosen as one of five areas in Britain where the scheme is being rolled out. In 20 years, one third of North Yorkshire’s 600,000 residents, will be over 65, and the concern is that could put a major strain on the healthcare system.

"In rural areas we have taken it for granted that we all look out for our neighbours," said Leah Swain, chief officer of Rural Action Yorkshire.

"But with more people commuting out of villages to work and returning late at night we sometimes need to provide a catalyst for good deeds.

"Good Neighbours can provide a framework a whole village can get behind. It is focused on older people, but everyone can sometimes need a little help,” she added.

Ms Swain said they also hope the schemes will alleviate some of the strain on public services.

"Good Neighbours increases a sense of collective responsibility and community spirit, which can lead on to other services and activities to the benefit of all,” she said.

The original idea for good neighbour schemes was started through Bedfordshire Rural Community Council, they’ve been running them for 20 year and now have 700 volunteers helping more than 2,000 people a year. If the scheme in North Yorkshire and other rural counties works well it will be spread out across the country.

Ms Swain said initially they hope to create seven schemes that directly benefit older people in the communities."Action inspires action and Good Neighbours can give support in a way that will hopefully inspire communities to look out for one another in times of need,” she added. For information go to