The origins of TTTB began in a social action research project where we went door to door to invite local older residents to our first community consultation in 2012. Over 90 older residents attended feeding back on the need for friendship. From this we set up TTTB as an unincorporated association (2013) that would approach befriending in an innovative way, activating local people including young people to reconnect with older people in their neighbourhoods. Comments from elderly residents who attended our consultations included: “I thought I was invisible’’, “Before coming here, I hadn’t spoken to anyone in weeks”.
Intensive community consultation has remained a core part of our work, so that the voice of older people drives what we do. We have gone on to organise at least one large consultation a year in parts of our city where there is a high concentration of single older people households (using Age UK heat maps and local authority data). Over 280 older residents have attended and fed back their views (driving our agenda on issues of concern and interest to them). In an age of digital consultation, our face to face events remain critical to us where the average age of our members is 82.
As we grow, we want to include the voice of our volunteers (including young people i.e. aged 16 years) and partners as well as our scheme members, hence the development of a TTTB Members Panel. The panel will meet for the first time in October 2019 and will be responsible for quality assuring our work and feeding in thoughts and ideas about the development of our charitable activities.