About Village Agents

Why Village Agents?

Research on those over the age of 50, has shown that many would prefer to get information about services face-to-face from a local, trusted contact, rather than attempting to find this information via the internet or making multiple phone calls. In an attempt to provide better support and access to vital information for older people in rural areas, the Village Agent Project was launched.

The West Berkshire Village Agent scheme was set up in 2013 with the first Agents trained and operating by January 2014. The project was developed and is managed by the Volunteer Centre West Berkshire and is funded in partnership with West Berkshire Council’s Department of Health and Well being.

The Village Agent project aims to increase and improve the ways in which people can find and benefit from services in rural areas.

What are Village Agents?

The Village Agent is a volunteer, recruited from within each parish area, and trained to ensure that they can provide good quality information and guidance about the services available to people living in their area. This includes voluntary transport services, social activities such as lunch clubs or information on practical help available within the home. They are able to draw attention to ways in which people may take advantage of energy-saving schemes and benefits in order to ensure that the vulnerable are able to remain warm and comfortable in their homes. The Agents ensure that local people can access services and information to help maintain independence in their own homes and communities for longer. Referrals come from a variety of sources including doctor’s surgeries and members of the community.

Village Agents are available to assist and support more than one section of the community. It could be older members of the community, or younger residents who have become socially-isolated, for whatever reason.

What do they do?

Village Agents aim to bridge the gap between the communities in which they are based, and the voluntary and statutory organisations offering services. Village Agents are well-trained volunteers, who can provide high quality information, to put those they are trying to assist, in direct contact with the agencies and organisations able to offer help and advice. By providing access to the right information, at the right time, Village Agents are able to help many older and/or socially-isolated people to live independently in their homes and communities.

There are now Village Agents in operating in parishes in West Berkshire. We plan to expand to parish areas throughout West Berkshire in 2015 to 2017.

How can they help?

Do you know someone who is aged over 50 and/or socially isolated? Many of us can be living independently and then, almost overnight, need a little help but do not know what is available. Village Agents are able to put residents in touch with the services and agencies that already exist, which can then allow people to enjoy for longer the home and community in which they live. For further information, please telephone Gill Comley on (01635) 581001, or 07753 66812 (mobile).

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