Posted by Cherry Bushell on

NBFA Assisting the Elderly has regretfully decided to close our charitable operations.  We have worked to tackle isolation and loneliness for disadvantaged older people since 1957 and we are proud to have helped many thousands of people over the years. We have always offered our friendship breaks as a completely free service to those who cannot afford to pay and we have never received government funds.  In recent times it has become increasingly difficult for NBFA Assisting the Elderly to raise the funds we need to deliver our friendship breaks and other services. We have investigated other avenues for new income and services but we have not found an answer to provide us with the income we need. As a result, our office is now closed and our plan is to distribute remaining funds as grants to charity services for older people. The charity will remain operational through the Trustees and they will distribute those remaining funds through a grants scheme.

Below are some FAQs that might answer your questions and these are repeated on the FAQs page. 

Why can't you raise the funds? We have always offered our friendship breaks as a completely free service to those who cannot afford to pay. We have never received government funds to deliver our services and we have relied on legacy gifts and grants from charitable trusts as our main sources of funding.   In recent years we have experienced a significant drop in legacy income and charitable trusts have had a surge in funding applications, which means we have been less successful in getting the size of grants that we need.  We have tried other avenues but we have not found an answer to provide us with the income we need.

Why don't you join up with another charity working with older people?

Other charities cannot afford to take on the cost of providing free breaks and so we have not found another charity to join up with. Our plan is to distribute our remaining funds as grants to charity services for older people. That means that we can give bigger grants because we will not have the costs of an office and staff team.

How will your beneficiaries be affected?

The nature of our service is that it is a unique intervention -therefore our priority has been to support new users rather than offer break places to people who have already been on a break.  Most of our contacts will be signposted to Contact the Elderly services local to their home, so the main loss will be that we cannot offer break places to new users who are eligible.

Are you still fundraising? Not actively but we can continue to accept donations as the charity remains operational and the Trustees will distribute funds through a grants scheme.

I am concerned about recent press coverage about donor mailing lists being sold on. Will my contact details be passed onto other charities? No, we do not share donor or beneficiary data collected by us with third parties and our policy will not change.  We will be deleting all contact details from our database and other records.

Who should I contact after the office closes?

Our website lists an email address and forwarding postal address. Please note that not all enquiries can be answered as there will be no staff to answer queries.


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Posted by Cherry Bushell on

One in four people will be aged over 65 by 2030. The demands on society associated with a rapidly ageing population will become more complex, especially as the resources needed to support such growth become more scarce. A recent report from the Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing said that the voluntary sector 'can choose to be in the vanguard of shaping our ageing society and embracing its opportunities' (*1).In effect, the report sets a challenge to the voluntary sector - now is the time to act. Now is the time to be more innovative, creative and flexible about how we meet need in the communities we serve.

And yet, this seems to miss the point. Innovation and creativity are luxuries that come with ample funding and time to test. The voluntary sector sits at the vanguard of an ageing population because we are often the people who are there meeting needs that aren't being met elsewhere. Voluntary sector organisations rely on an unpaid workforce who are often asked to fill in the gaps left by declining public sector provision. Our daily work doesn't appear to let up. Need appears to continue persist.

Ageing provides a fascinating lens to view the activity of the voluntary sector. As a collective, we are easy to talk to; caring, compassionate and connected and we are always looking for ways to ease the needs of those we help. But we are not in a position to solve them, the needs may be managed to an extent, but they are not eliminated. There are many reasons for this. Funding seems to be the lead issue for malcontent. And yet, I would suggest that being disempowered is a far worse fate that we face. Voluntary sector organisations demonstrate effective leadership but this is limited to within the charity and the sector - our scope is limited by the fact we aren't in a position to shape society as many of the needs we meet are the outcome of government decisions and a system that has inherent inequality at its foundation. We fill the gaps created by forces far bigger than ourselves.

Isolation and loneliness in old age is now spoken about widely – we know that ageing leads to a shrinking world and fewer social connections. New acquaintances for older people tend to be service providers, there to bathe, dress and feed. Not to talk about politics, the future and seek out wisdom. This is not inclusive care of a vital part of our society. This is activity being done to the older people. As though they exist 'over there', separate in some way. The ageing lens shows the cracks in our society on a scale that we cannot ignore. And yet, we as voluntary sector organisations are only able to provide the paper that make the cracks disappear for a short time. That is, until the crack widens or another one appears.

In a sense, Jeremy Hunt, Minister of State for Health was onto something this month when he said we were all responsible for elderly relatives and neighbours (*2); we all carry responsibilities of care to those around us. But his language was misleading. Local authorities and the NHS do not alone shoulder the burden. The voluntary sector has for decades offered its shoulders to help and care for those in need.  The issues of isolation and loneliness won't be fixed  by a more responsible public who pop in to have a cup of tea and a chat with an elderly neighbours. Replace  the term 'isolation' with 'exclusion' and the question of a cup of tea becomes a question of inequality.

Kindness, neighbourliness, care, friendship – these are the tools that are needed to build flourishing united communities. Isolation and loneliness are indicative of exclusion. The cracks the voluntary sector paper over are those that would normally be filled by social connections, the natural outcome of an inclusive society. With ageing as the lens, we can see that these tools must be nurtured and encouraged to become the fabric of our society.

The voluntary sector is not alone as it edges towards the vanguard, all of society stands in the vanguard. Systemic change is needed. Care must become embedded in our children's education, the way we use our streets should be made inclusive, our attitudes to the value a single person presents to society must go beyond economic contribution.

Responding to the challenge

Laura Alexander

Programme Manager, NBFA Assisting the Elderly

July 2015


1) 'Decision Time: WIll the voluntary sector embrace the age of opportunity?' Final report of the Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing, March 2015, page 1


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Posted by Cherry Bushell on

We are joining CARE International UK in celebration of their 70th anniversary – and of the heart-warming stories of the British families who received aid packages from CARE in the aftermath of World War 2.

Through CARE, Americans could pay $10 to send a 'CARE package' to someone in war-torn Europe. Thousands of families in the UK received such packages containing urgently needed food supplies such as corned beef, tinned fruit, lard, sugar and milk powder.

During their anniversary year CARE International UK are looking to recapture their history and collect stories from people who received these packages – let's help them keep these stories alive!

Did you or your family receive a CARE package?

Please get in touch with CARE to share your memories – a quote, a picture or your full story – as much or as little as you want to share, CARE International UK would love to hear from you.

If you have a story please go to, email or call 0800 320 2233.







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