Who are Time to Talk Befriending?
Our purpose, our origins
Time to Talk Befriending is a small local charity rooted in the Sussex communities it serves. We offer a uniquely personalised model of intergenerational befriending, signposting and advice. We work with vulnerable older people aged 65+ who experience chronic loneliness and social isolation. We are motivated by our belief that older people should be honoured and respected, not hidden away and forgotten by society. Attending our community outreach events, feedback from new members includes: “I thought I was invisible’’, “Before coming here, I hadn’t spoken to anyone in weeks”.
Starting as a grassroots project in 2012, formerly established in 2013 we became a small charity in November 2014. With steady growth, we now support 230 older members, with the majority aged between 75-104 years. We have over 200 befriending volunteers and 158 school students providing events and group befriending. We also run, in partnership with local churches, colleges/schools and a pre-school weekly and monthly group befriending meet-ups for our older members. Facilitating intergenerational befriending is one of our core aims (research from Age UK states that evidence shows this type of befriending often has more positive impact than peer to peer befriending).
We were awarded ‘Best Small Charity of the Year’ by our regional newspaper, The Argus in 2016 and ‘Best partnership and collaboration’ by our Community Voluntary Sector body in October 2016. We work in Brighton, Hove and are developing into Worthing and Adur. We have grown steadily but believe we are now ready to significantly expand and help more vulnerable older lonely people to reduce their isolation. Our aim is to provide an effective model for replication that can be utilised in other areas of high need across the Sussex County (and beyond!).
Older people: their voice and feedback
We have designed a scheme which is ‘’member based’’. We do not refer to our members as ‘’clients’’ or ‘’end-users’’. We want to foster a crucial sense of belonging. Nearly all our members live alone and have no friends or family that regularly visit them.
In 2012 we carried out informal social action research supported by two local Brighton churches, University of Sussex social work faculty, the national LifeLines scheme and Age UK Brighton and Hove. We knew many older residents lived locally but were rarely seen out. 96 vulnerable older residents completed our wide-ranging needs analysis questionnaire. Overwhelmingly, feedback was for friendship and human connection. Typical examples being: “Thank you so much for bringing us together. I didn’t think people cared” (data is documented on our website under ”Research”). This formed the origins of Time to Talk Befriending.
We identify concentrations of isolated older people using Age UK Heat Maps and local authority data to reach isolated older people. 89% of our sampled member review questionnaires state that our befriending model has had a really positive or positive impact on their lives, Project Statistics 2017.
The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness published its findings in December 2017 and pulled together the evidence base from 13 specialist national organisations (including Silver Line, Independent Age and Age UK). We know from this report that:
- More than 1 in 3 people aged 75+ say that feelings of loneliness are out of their control
- For 3.6 million people aged 65+ television is the main form of company
- Weak social connection is as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day
We operate locally in Brighton, Hove, Worthing, Adur and rural fringes. We are active members of a Brighton and Hove Befriending Coalition. The Founder and CEO of the Charity is also the South Coast Regional Coordinator for the National Linking Lives UK Charity which enables Churches to provide befriending within their local community.