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Support for rural communities thanks to village agents
THESE are the faces of four people who are helping to bring community support to villages in Taunton Deane.
Audrey Mansfield, Lisa Souster, Trudi Morgan and Valerie Hunt all work as village agents.
The service was launched just over one year ago and aims to support people before they fall into crisis situations.
Audrey, a retired police officer, said: “Our role is to support vulnerable people in rural communities before they end up needed to be helped by the NHS and other social services which are draining the country.
“I have always worked in communities and everyone complains about this or that so this is about helping yourself.
The village agents work between eight and 20 hours a week depending on each individual’s other commitments.
The scheme was trialled in Gloucester five years ago before being introduced in Somerset.
In total, there are 14 village agents across Somerset after being employed by the Community Council of Somerset in June last year.
Sarah Aston, the village agent manager, said the project has really made a difference to the people of Somerset.
She added: “So far our agents have held 403 meetings and advice sessions reaching 5,889 people in isolated communities - which is fantastic.
“The project has been running for over a year now and we have had great feedback from our clients where all of them said they feel safer and better informed with the village agents support.”
They are funded by the Big Lottery along with other charitable organisations.
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