A PILOT project has launched in Solva in a bid to improve the health and wellbeing of its residents.

Solva Care is a not for profit project which has been set up by Solva Community Council to offer friendly, local support to those who need it. It is thought to be one of the first of its kind in the UK.

Services such as pop in visits, shopping, transport, minor repairs and maintenance, dog walking and domestic chores are offered by locally trained volunteers, all free of charge.

The aim of the project is to enable residents to stay in their own homes and remain part of the community. It also helps to counteract loneliness and provide respite for people caring for relatives.

The idea for Solva Care came from Solva Community Councillor, Mollie Roach, who after conducting research into alternative models of care for an ageing population, found it could be delivered best at a local level.

“It seemed to me that we could do a better job ourselves,” she said.

“We want to contain it in Solva and have local carers who can walk to work and get to know the people they are looking after. That way we will have continuity of care.

“What we don’t want to do is replace local services, so we wouldn’t have volunteers cleaning windows when there is somebody doing that as a job.”

Project co-ordinator Lena Dixon said the project has got off to a great start since its launch, with 30 volunteers on board and 20 service users.

She said: “Already this month volunteers have completed 70 hours.

“We’ve been very proactive, we haven’t just sat around. While I was doing all the checks, Mollie and some of the others went to see everyone in the village who was in care to see how we could help.

“We’ve initially found work by visiting people, but now we’ve got to the point where people are phoning us.”

Ms Dixon added: “We link in with activities like the coffee morning, the cinema and the luncheon club, helping to get people there. People are coming out now who haven’t been seen for years.”

John and Pat Mayoh have lived in Solva for more than 40 years and are benefitting from Solva Care.

Pat, 86 and John, 92 are given transport to Withybush Hospital.

Pat said: “While I am able to drive, it’s best for me to avoid the stress of getting there, having to park and getting John out of the car.

“Solva Care is a great thing for the village.”

The pilot project has secured two years of funding from the Sustainable Development Fund, administered by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and the Welsh Government.

Cllr Roach explained that they are dividing the project into two: the volunteer-led pilot project, which she said they are confident in delivering, and the full project, which is a longer term objective.

She said: “The Welsh Government are interested in our project because they are looking for innovative ways of delivering public social services.

“They are looking at what we are doing and seeing if it might be replicable in other areas. We are also the subject of a research programme at Cardiff University.”