A service which has helped hundreds of vulnerable residents to remain independent has celebrated its fifth birthday.

And from small beginnings, Wolverhampton City Council's Neighbourhood Support Service has become an important way of supporting older people, and those with a physical or sensory disability, in the city.

In June 2008, work began to transform the traditional sheltered housing service - which offered help and support only to residents living in sheltered housing schemes in the city - into one offering support to any resident of Wolverhampton who is aged 60 or over, or who has a physical or sensory disability.

From those first tentative steps, the Neighbourhood Support Service has grown into a city-wide service which helped more than 700 people in the last 12 months alone.

Its Neighbourhood Support Officers provide help and advice on a range of subjects, and also put residents in touch with organisations which can carry out repairs and modifications to make living at home easier and safer, give advice on claiming benefits, managing debt and other financial matters, and carry out domestic tasks like shopping or even looking after pets.

Clare Garratt, Neighbourhood Support Team Leader, said: "We're a short-term intervention designed to help people regain their independence which they may have lost because they have fallen ill, left hospital or are simply growing older.

"We have around 300 people on our books at any one time, showing there is real demand for this sort of support, and it can make a huge difference to people's lives by improving their health, emotional and economic well-being, maintaining their personal dignity and simply making their lives a little easier."

Councillor Steve Evans, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Services, said: "Older people tell us that maintaining their independence is one of the most important things to them, and the Neighbourhood Support Officers are on hand to give people the advice they need to help them do this wherever possible.

"Hundreds of people have benefited from this service over the last 5 years, and I'm delighted to say that many of them have been able to live much more independent lives than would otherwise have been the case.

"The staff do a great job - they carry out a variety of tasks and challenges, but nothing is ever too much for them."

To find out more about the help and support on offer from the Neighbourhood Support Service, please call 01902 554701 or email nss@wolverhampton.gov.uk.

The service is funded by Wolverhampton City Council and is free to all clients, though some services which people are referred to may charge.

  • released: Thursday 20 June, 2013