While there were rising concerns around the development of Covid-19 we transitioned our befriending service quickly to respond to the pandemic.

By the end of March 2020, we were providing telephone befriending, virtual volunteer recruitment, resources, and online training for our volunteers.

During the first phase (April-June 2020) referrals into our service for older people experiencing loneliness increased dramatically. In April 2020 we started supporting older people in a new area of West Sussex to meet a need for long term befriending. By June 2020 we had literally doubled in size supporting an additional 231 referrals and 218 volunteers within four months. By the end of December 2020, we were supporting 531 one to one telephone befriending matches between older people and community volunteers. Between April 2020-March 2021 73 scheme members died compared to an average of 20 per year.

We set up an emergency food distribution centre in response to the unmet needs of our own members identified through one to one call prior to the first lockdown in March 2020.  This was made possible thanks to additional support from our in-house volunteer reviewers who are retired professionals including social workers and volunteers who transitioned to our core team from Victim Support.

Phase one (mid-March to early April) enabled us to help 139 scheme members access emergency food parcels thanks to a collaboration with City Coast Church to set up the food distribution centre. The staff team worked with these 139 individuals to set up long term food delivery services which was in place by early April 2020.

Our food outreach centre soon transitioned to supporting emergency referrals from Brighton and Hove council for older people living in food poverty.

March-August 2020

Our partnership with City Coast Church extended and we worked alongside Nourish Catering and Events Nourish Catering Events to deliver over 3000 fresh homecooked meals to older people’s door made from donations and food waste.

Weekly emergency food parcels were also delivered providing essential tinned items, toiletries, and fresh food such as bread, milk, and eggs, thanks to ongoing relationships with the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, local Churches, faith groups, charities, businesses, and individuals. In addition, the nutritious home cooked meals were made possible thanks to the use of Exeter Street Hall. Our food outreach ended in August 2020 when there were sufficient food hubs offering support across Brighton and Hove.

In addition, we ran a small home cooked meal delivery project to Brighton and Hove Council Senior Housing residents. This was made possible thanks to partnerships with Nourish Catering and Events and Impact Initiatives who are the lead provider of a Brighton and Hove Public Health Commissioned partnership called Ageing Well of which we are sub-contractors.

Our extensive database of information enabled the staff team to provide a mix of 418 onward referrals and signposting information to our existing scheme members to enable them to access additional support i.e. money advice, practical help at home and activities i.e. online groups, library home delivery services, food provision etc.

Our in-house Anna Chaplaincy service increased by 10% within the first week  of the pandemic and our chaplain continues to provide an integral frontline response to members who are in need of a listening ear.

The Charity also worked together with the Sussex Indian Punjabi Society and other local BAME groups to raise awareness of loneliness during Covid-19 and how it’s impact on social well-being can be improved.

Finally, our regular postal communication with scheme members increased in response to findings outlined within this report about the positive way in which our communication helps to create a sense of belonging.

As a result of the pandemic, the charity is now supporting the largest number of older people and volunteers we have ever supported at one time. We continue to extend staff hours to respond. Our quality systems for volunteers remain in place: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), reference checking and online inductions. For the first time in TTTB’s history, there have been occasions when we have had a waiting list, while we carefully and prudently recruit and train more befriending volunteers as capacity allows. This has included the development of partnerships with local businesses who allow staff to volunteer their time during working hours which has proven to be an invaluable resource.

Support us today

Your donations and support helps to change lives and overcome loneliness.

Could you support us financially? In doing so you will enable us to positively connect with older people who feel ‘invisible’, ‘forgotten’, and ‘alone’.

Regular monthly or one off donations make a significant difference to our Charity.

We need the generous support of our community, both big and small to improve the lives of society's most lonely, isolated and vulnerable older people.