Two community consultations were held between 2011-2012 engaging with older people living in East Brighton, East Sussex. The average age of the participants was 83. The majority were living alone in local high-rise flats and reported at least one health condition at the time of our research.
Our founder and a team from her local Church worked alongside partners such as Age UK Brighton and Hove, Lifelines Volunteering Matters, University of Sussex Social Work Department, and other local Churches to reach, connect, and engage with older people. The hope was to identify their wants and needs with a view to helping them become more socially included within the community.
Evidence collected from these initial consultation events highlighted an overwhelming need to ‘see a friendly face at home’ because ‘before you contacted me, I hadn’t spoken to anyone for months’.
At the two ‘Honouring Older People Events’ (2011, 2012), neighbours who hadn’t seen each other for years were reconnecting. They were swapping numbers and sharing stories about how their lives had changed since they have not been able to leave the four walls of their homes without extra support. The majority of the 94 participants said they felt a deep sense of loneliness and that until we had reached out, they thought they were ‘invisible’.
We are therefore truly thankful to have met these amazing older people whose voice not only formed the foundation of the charity, but who we were then able to support once the Charity officially founded in December 2013.
The voice of our scheme members and volunteers continue to be at the heart of our work. We have held further consultations with 280 older people since the foundation of the charity and have won accolades for our community outreach work, ‘Best Partnership and Collaboration’ by our local CVS in 2016 and ‘Charity of the Year’ by the Argus Newspaper in 2016.
Thanks to the support of retired professionals including social workers, we capture satisfaction data and insights from our scheme members and volunteers through regular reviews. These responses are monitored on a monthly basis to identify gaps in provision and areas for growth and development. These reviews are quality assured annually by our Members Panel made up of scheme members, volunteers and local partners.
Our most recent research project was undertaken in partnership with the University of Sussex to capture the voice of our beneficiaries in August 2020 following the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. We developed the survey to enable us to capture our scheme member and volunteer experiences of lockdown, the impact our service has had on them, and their ideas for service provision going forward so that we can plan ahead for the future.
The methodology, findings, and recommendations following the survey are detailed within this report. The results of which have contributed towards the next phase of our work which we are calling Staying Together Recovering Together. Research results can be downloaded here.
Contributions for the following amounts will help us to create a sense of belonging for our scheme members through:
Newsletters and activity packs
Chaplaincy calls and resources
Comforting befriending phone calls