A GOOD neighbour scheme has been set up in rural Herefordshire to help tackle loneliness and isolation.

The OWL Good Neighbour scheme is aimed at residents south of Herefordshire from Hoarwithy and across to Garway.

Herefordshire county councillor David Harlow for the Birch ward said the idea started in Orcop when around six parishioners were discussing how they could help the community in light of government and council cutbacks.

The idea developed to launch a service to reach out to isolated and vulnerable people and offer them support over the phone and in their homes.

Cllr Harlow said: "We have a phone line that is manned by our volunteers. It is not just for old people but for all ages. For example, if someone can't get to the doctors to pick up their prescription we help out and give them a lift.

"Sometimes people just feel lonely. Herefordshire Council said a year ago about loneliness being one of the biggest problems in rural areas.

"We talk about the elderly but it could be a mum with kids who is stuck in an isolated area and feels cut off."

The phone line is open on Tuesdays 10am to 12pm and Thursdays 2pm to 4pm.

If the caller wants, a volunteer can make a home visit.

Cllr Harlow said: "We are lucky to live in a beautiful area. There is a community and it is just a way of keeping the community going so people can turn to their neighbour in times of need."

A launch of the OWL good neighbour scheme is on Saturday, May 14 from 2pm to 4pm at Orcop Village Hall. Everyone is welcome to join in for a cup of tea and cake.

There are currently 15 volunteers.

Cllr Harlow said: "It is just to publicise it. We want more volunteers and we want to get the number out there for people who are in need of the service."

The number for the OWL good neighbour scheme is 07940 308696.