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St Albans Good Neighbour Scheme

A glimpse into the day-to-day activities of a St Albans Good Neighbour Scheme duty officer.

Good neighbour

A Day in the Life of a Duty Officer

6 – 8 pm the previous evening

The ‘portable office’ is delivered to my home. This contains all I will need the next day, including diary, Day Book, card indexes, stationery and general information.

My Duty Office Day - starting at 9 am the next morning

The phone line is open until 1 pm and I will be answering the helpline on behalf of the Good Neighbour Scheme. I quickly read the last few pages of entries in the Day Book to get a picture of recent requests.

9.15 am - the first call is received

A 92 year old needs transport to the Foot Clinic at the hospital. She tells me she walks with a stick and can be a bit unsteady. I note that she has her own ‘Blue Badge’ which will make parking at the hospital easier. I take details of the appointment day and time and tell her I will call her back later in the day. I then look at a list of volunteers who are usually available on the day of the appointment and may start telephoning to find someone able to do this particular job.

10 am – 1 pm – further calls come in

An elderly person would like someone to trim a hedge, another to be visited by a befriender and a third needs shopping done regularly. These requests I pass directly to the Section leaders/co-ordinators who will find suitable volunteers and arrange mutually convenient times. And so the day continues. A few more calls come in. I usually wait until I have several jobs to set up and ring our volunteers at lunch-time or late afternoon when they are more likely to be at home. No-one gets a black mark for being unavailable. When the jobs are set up, I ring the clients to tell them what time they will be picked up. Another job for Duty Officers is to telephone the volunteers who are driving the next day to remind them of their pick-up time.

Before 6 pm

I concentrate on checking the entries I have made and that all the cards have been marked and the diary written up. The average number of calls on a weekday is 7.

Between 6 and 8 pm

I take the ‘portable office’ to tomorrow’s Duty Officer. If I didn’t have my own transport, another volunteer would come and collect the bags and deliver them for me.


A busy day but worthwhile – one person will be taken to the hospital, another to the dentist, one to visit her daughter, one will be taken shopping, one will shortly have their hedge cut, another will be introduced to a regular shopper and another will be contacted with a view to having a befriender visit them weekly for a chat and a cup of tea.

All that is required is a friendly telephone manner, readable hand-writing (we are not yet fully computerised!) and a desire to help others who do not have family or good neighbour available to help them in a wide range of practical ways. The help we provide really does make a difference to lives of residents of St Albans and District, is much appreciated by them, and only rarely are we unable to help. Training is given to our new D.O.s and we have our own mobile telephone. If you can spare just one day a month – or quarter – to do this job from the comfort of your own home, please contact us on 01727 830 713 or download our volunteer contact form