Photo: a “Neighbourliness Works” event

Neighbourliness Works

Neighbourliness Works is all about spreading kindness and caring within your local community by carrying out neighbourly actions for those in your community who could benefit from a helping hand.

Warm Spots update

25th March 2023

Are we coming towards the end of winter?

We’re certainly seeing plenty of signs of spring, with daffodils blooming and lambs appearing in the fields, but we’re also still seeing some spells of very cold weather. Fingers crossed for some lovely warm and sunny weather over the next few months!

Read the full update Warm Spots Update March 2023

Warmspots map

You may have spotted in the media and through our newsletters that there has been a great push across the county, to set up warm and welcome places (warm spots!) for people to access over the winter months. Much of this has been in response to the cost of living crisis, and the concern that people are struggling to pay their energy bills, but many people are attending them for sociable reasons too – it’s a good way to spend long, cold days and evenings. There are over 200 groups that have registered ‘warm spot’ sessions over the last two months, which goes to show just how much compassion and willingness there is in Cumbria, to support people when they need it most.

The public can look at the countywide webpage to see what’s going on in their area – and it’s also where you can register your own sessions, if you would like to set one up or you’re running already!

The link is here:

There is a set of basic criteria that groups providing warm spots need to meet, in order to register their warm spot as an official one; we’re encouraging groups to look at other sessions in their area, to try and spread out provision - so it doesn’t all happen on the same days, giving local people in the area more choices and sessions to attend.

The criteria are pretty easy to fulfil, but if there is anything that we can help with, just let us know. The warm spots toolkit may be of use it contains lots of information about making your sessions as safe, warm and welcoming as possible.

We’re finding that sessions offering some kind of entertainment or activity are especially working well – in some places it’s jigsaws or newspapers, some areas have films running and others lure people in with food and a brew. We’re also finding that the groups that focus on it being something interesting to do, and sociable, are being better attended than those that advertise themselves as places to go if you’re cold and hungry. We believe this is because it means people can attend without having to share that they’re struggling, as anyone can attend sociable or food sharing events. Volunteers have been benefitting, making new connections with people and staying warm, too! The recent survey of warm spot providers found that social isolation/loneliness was the most common reason for attending.

There is funding for warm spots (let us know if you’re in rural Copeland as we can offer some additional support). And when you register, you’ll be sent (or can download) a promotion toolkit with logos, social media info etc. to help publicise what you’re doing.

Keep up the brilliant work!

COVID-19 Community Response

Guidance for volunteers

During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are seeing so many wonderful acts of neighbourly support within our communities. Please visit our Coronavirus page for guidance about Coronavirus (COVID-19), Communities and Community Buildings.

If you are volunteering as part of a community group, or as an individual, the links in the Community Response and Volunteering sections of the guidance will be particularly helpful to you, providing guidance on e.g. how to handle money when shopping for others etc.

If you want to volunteer, register with, they will then contact you once there is a volunteering opportunity.

Register your Support Group

If you are involved in a community response group, please register with so that all of our efforts can be coordinated. This is the official central coordination point for community support during the coronavirus outbreak. By registering, it will help to identify where there might be gaps and further help needed.

Free Public Liability Insurance offer

Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch offers NW Public Liability Insurance offer for Community Emergency Response groups including groups involved in COVID-19 community support. To be eligible, groups need to complete a Community Emergency Plan and Risk Assessment. Templates and guidance for these can be found on our Community Emergency Planning page.

Local Area Updates

To find out what is happening in your area, visit the local directories on the Cumbria County Council Coronavirus Communities web page where you can read the latest Local Area Update for your district and also sign up to receive future updates by email. These newsletters provide useful information such as your local community response groups and the support, services and benefits available.

Community Groups - for now and the future

If you are looking to set up a more formal, coordinated and permanent group to support your community now and in the longer term, you can do this by creating any or all of the following:

  • Neighbourhood Watch scheme - to bring neighbours together to build safer and more inclusive communities (neighbourly watch).
  • Good Neighbours Scheme - to link people up who need help, with a member of the community who would like to help; see more information below
  • Community Emergency Plan - so that communities and households are prepared for time of crisis such as extreme weather events.

Neighbourliness Works

From time to time we all appreciate having someone nearby who can look out for us, and there may be times when we’re in greater need of a friendly face or a helping hand. As part of our Neighbourliness Works programme, we have begun the ‘Looking Out For Your Neighbours’ project which is about encouraging people to carry out neighbourly activities for those who need it most in your local area. ACT can support you to make a difference.

Neighbourly actions, big or small, can make a huge difference

Making time for someone else, even for just a couple of hours a month can benefit them (and you) in such a positive way. The actions don’t have to be big, for instance you could help someone with the shopping, gardening, reading, baby sitting or computer. Or you might want to organise something larger such as a shopping trip or a regular social event for a group.

If you are keen to get involved, think about who in your local area might appreciate a good neighbour. They may, for instance struggle to get out due to a lack of transport, personal mobility or even a new baby. Or they may be ill, frail or lacking in confidence. Talk to them to find out what involvement they might like. Then get in touch with us to see how we can help you to get your neighbourly deeds off the ground.

What do you do for your neighbours & what do they do for you? For ideas, please see Relevant Resources below

We are also on the look-out for examples of good neighbourly activity, whether it’s increasing neighbourliness in existing groups and Neighbourhood Watch schemes or starting up a new project - to give people a helping hand, organise shopping trips, local lunches etc.

As an example, take a look at this 1 minute video of Staveley’s 2020 Living Advent Calendar:

Contact us to discuss your ideas.

Good Neighbours

Good Neighbours Schemes are community run initiatives linking people who are in particular need, with community volunteers who are willing to help. If you’re interested in starting a scheme in your community, contact us at ACT to find out more.

What are Good Neighbours Schemes?

Good Neighbours Schemes match people who can give some time, with people who need some help. Lots of people help each other out already but a Good Neighbours Scheme is a way of giving casual help more structure so that:

  • People who need help don’t feel they’re bothering their neighbours if they need to ask for help frequently.
  • People who don’t know each other, or who are new to the area, can be matched up to help or be helped.

What kind of jobs?

Each scheme can decide what they want to offer but most lend-a-hand with:

  • Transport
  • Collecting shopping or prescriptions
  • Small household task or a garden tidy-up
  • Befriending
  • Letter writing / form filling
  • Simple IT guidance

Benefits for the person volunteering:

  • You can get involved with your community and do as much or as little as you want. There’s no need to feel awkward if you can’t always help.
  • You can meet new people in your community, including those from different generations.
  • You can make use of whatever time you can spare and you may have particular skills which could be used such as IT or gardening.

Benefits for the person being helped:

  • You can get jobs done that would be difficult for you to do alone.
  • You can meet new people in your community, including those from different generations.
  • It could help you to stay in your own home as you get older.
  • If you live on your own it could give you some company.
  • If you’ve lost local services i.e shop or post office, it could lessen the impact.

How would it work?

Schemes are coordinated by phone, usually a mobile, which can be held in turn by a group of volunteer 'Duty Officers' who match up requests for help, with volunteers available. Most schemes cover a defined geographical area such as a parish, town, village or neighbourhood.

Support from ACT

ACT can provide an overview of how Good Neighbours Schemes work for your community group, residents group or Parish Council. We can help you to establish if there is demand for a Good Neighbours Scheme in your area and how to get a scheme started.

Please scroll down to find Relevant Resources.

What people say about ACT

  • Work with communities, encouraging participation and empowering people

    Diane Ward

    Copeland Borough Council

  • I think the community sector is under acknowledged and you have your eye on the ball.

    Andrea Aldridge

    Manna House

  • Wealth of experience in community development and working with people to give them a voice and influence change for the better.

    Kellie Bradburn-Sims

    Cumbria County Council

  • You understand and welcome active partnership working to ensure the council is able to ethically and genuinely engage with our communities on projects, initiatives and community planning.

    Julie Betteridge

    Copeland Borough Council

  • If it had not been for you encouraging & inspiring us to apply for the grant it would not have been achievable

    Home Manager

    Inglewood Care Home, Wigton

  • Thank you for your help and advice this morning

    Janet Carter

    Light Up Lives CIC

  • Engaging with communities.

    Lyz Turner-Dow

    Animal Concern Cumbria

  • It circulates important information. Valuable conferences

    Jacquetta Gomes

    Buddhist Group of Kendal

Relevant Resources

Guidance Sheets

Toolkits & Workbooks

  • Warm Spots Toolkit

    Updated January 2024. Warm Spots are warm and safe places to be this winter. They are places in the community that give people a warm space and a warm welcome. This toolkit is for people who are thinking about setting up a Warm Spot in their community. It gives you information on  what a Warm Spot needs to offer, how to register your Warm Spot, tips for running a welcoming  and safe Warm Spot. 

    First produced in October 2022 in response to the cost of living crisis, the Warm Spot Toolkit has been revised and updated for January 2024.

  • Good Neighbours Scheme Toolkit

    A Good Neighbours Scheme is a community-run initiative linking people who are in particular need with community volunteers who are willing to help. The Good Neighbours Scheme Toolkit will assist and guide you through setting up a scheme. Please also see accompanying template documents that can be used in conjunction with this toolkit.

  • Good Neighbours Scheme Templates

    A set of template documents for use in conjunction with the Good Neighbours Scheme Toolkit.

  • ACT Community Exchanges Toolkit

    Community Exchanges are regular community-led events that bring people together, provide services and information and reduce social isolation. This toolkit brings together a series of guidance sheets and video interviews from Crosthwaite Exchange, 'The Vic' Community Cafe in Culgaith, and Bolton Exchange, to support other communities looking to start their own Exchange or Community Cafe.

Case Studies


Crosthwaite Exchange Nov 2010

Culgaith 'The Vic' Community Cafe Oct 2010

Bolton Exchange June 2010