Abstract: Solva in West Wales, UK, is a small community with about 700 people on the electoral roll. In 2013, Solva Community Council faced the fact that things were not going well for the elderly in our village. Many had to leave home and go “into care.” They didn’t want to go and we didn’t want to lose them. A community councillor at that time, author Mollie Roach, did some research and decided that the village could look after its own. A small working party including first author Frances Barker was set up to plan the way forward. The original idea was not a volunteer service. We wanted to set up a local domiciliary care service, where the carers would live locally and not have to spend their precious time travelling between wide-spread destinations. We soon found that there were several administrative and monetary barriers in the way of setting up such a scheme, especially for a small community. Registration needed money and qualified people. and the “rules” were such as to prevent rather than encourage individual response to individual circumstances. However, we could see that there was a need for a local volunteer service. It is disturbing when you discover you cannot go up a ladder and change a light bulb. It is devastating when you are told you cannot drive anymore because of an eye problem. It is worrying when you cannot take the dog for a good walk or collect your prescription because of arthritis. All these problems are under the radar of statutory services. This is a gap that can be alleviated by a local community-based volunteer scheme. Solva Care evolved with a paid co-ordinator to mediate between volunteers and those needing help. We are now getting closer to the original idea, doing our best to integrate domiciliary and social care, working with agencies, private carers, families, and individuals, as well as continuing to run the volunteer service.
Keywords: community integration; local action; rural area; village activities; volunteer service