A scheme is to be launched in Northamptonshire that uses volunteers to return people with dementia home if they get lost.
The Neighbourhood Return scheme aims to sign up significant numbers of volunteers across Northamptonshire who only need to have a mobile phone that is regularly charged and has credit on it.
Organiser Deborah Ginns said: “We are appealing to everyone in Northamptonshire who has a mobile phone to sign up, no matter how little time they think they may have.
“We know that everyone is very busy, but the commitment is very small, you may never get a call, but if you do, and you are free, you might just help to save someone’s life. If you aren’t free to search, or in the wrong place when we send you a message to say someone is missing, then just text back ‘no’ to tell us you can’t help.
“The more volunteers we can call on, the more likely that some will be available to search.”
The scheme is funded by the National Lottery Silver Dreams fund and is a Neighbourhood Watch project.
Scheme organisers work closely with the Northamptonshire Dementia Action Alliance which comprises local private, statutory and voluntary agencies including Northamptonshire Police.
Volunteers will only be asked to search in a familiar local area, generally around a mile of their home, unless you are able to drive or cycle and are happy to go farther afield – for example in a rural area.
They are only asked to search for as long as they can, and never more than for two-and-a-half hours.
Mrs Ginns said: “This is very much about helping your neighbour down the street or in your local Northamptonshire village.
“Many carers try to cope on their own and don’t ring the police straight away.
“We are there to help them search as soon as they realise someone is missing. We register people with memory problems, before anything happens, taking details and a photograph to help people looking for them.
“Once the person is registered we sent carers a fridge magnet so they can find our number quickly and then they can forget about it, unless or until someone gets lost. Think of it as a, free, local, peace of mind insurance policy.”
Both volunteers and carers can join through the Neighbourhood Return website (www.ourturn.org.uk) or by ringing the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network National Office on 0116 229 3118.