Who are Time to Talk Befriending?

Our purpose, our origins

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 over 300 older members, with the majority aged between 75-104 years. Our scheme members are matched with a wide range of volunteers including young Mum’s and their children, young professionals, volunteers and their dog, retirees and the list goes on! In addition we train and support year-long placements for sixth form students from a local College who help to provide one to one befriending, events and group befriending. In 2018 there were 152 participating in this community based programme. In addition we work partnership with local churches, colleges, schools and a pre-schools 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).

Our headquarters are based in Brighton, Hove and we were awarded ‘Best Small Charity of the Year’ by our regional newspaper, The Argus in 2016 for our work across the City. In addition we were awarded the accolade of ‘Best partnership and Collaboration’ by our Community Voluntary Sector body in October 2016. In 2017 we literally doubled in size and in 2017-2018 we undertook a pilot in neighbouring Worthing. In 2019 we are working towards obtaining ‘Approved Befriending Provider’ status via the national organisation Befriending Networks of which we are members. In 2019 we are also fully launching our service in Worthing thanks to National Lottery Funding. As a Charity we have grown steadily since it’s foundation but we are now ready to significantly expand and help more older people who experience loneliness caused by social isolation. Our long term 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 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.