Posted by Cherry Bushell on

Tim, our Operations Officer joined the charity in 2013, having worked in other charities for the previous three years. He enjoys managing our volunteers, dealing with the day to day operations of the charity and talking to people.


Tim's own account of one of our recent friendship breaks...

This was my second opportunity to lead a friendship break with the support of my terrific volunteer courier team. Our group was from Hampshire and London and we set down in Eastbourne for a week packed full of great activities.

In the build up to any of our friendship breaks a lot of planning and organising goes on behind the scenes to make sure they are a huge success. I find every break we run seems to get better and better, so the pressure is always on!

The planning starts months before the break takes place. Once we have funding secured, we publicise the break to local organisations, on social media, online and to our users who may be eligible because of where they live and other circumstances.

Once the deadline for applications has passed, we assess each application on merit and offer places to those who reach our criteria - which is based on low income, being alone, living in social housing, personal circumstances and reason for needing a break.

On the break itself and as introduction, we shared something of ourselves through memories revisited sessions when we looked at images from the past.  It's amazing to me how our oldest attendees have been through such incredible changes in their lifetimes and have such powerful experiences. They have so much still to offer.  I think they sometimes surprise each other too by what they find out in those early sessions.

We had several hobby sharing afternoons. This was a chance for people to bring along their choice of hobbies, interests and skills that they could share with other people. Terry brought along her tarot cards and shared the basics of card reading. For Jackie, making greetings cards is a bit of an obsession, and she was very generous to bring some of her materials to share and make a card from scratch. Others taught and learned new domino and board games, which is always useful to keep the brain ticking over.

We offered an introduction to tai chi - which was really popular - and the wonderful tutor had us all moving around, including some who initially took a back seat!  We also invited University of the Third Age to talk about their work and how participants could get involved in their local groups at home. We try to encourage people to use their new found energy and contacts to get out and try something new or join a local activity back at home.

I have to admit that without the superb support of our volunteer couriers, it would be impossible to run our friendship breaks. Some of our volunteers are very experienced and have been with us for many years. It is a really hard-working week for our team and we often think we need a break to recover afterwards! During the week visiting volunteers commented on the really positive group dynamic.

For those attending, we see such an overt change in confidence and mood over the week. More fundamentally, it's obvious the group really appreciates the mutual support and the opportunity to meet people they can relate to and bond with. Many say they feel better able to deal with the challenges of their home life.  That's a pretty satisfying result for me!

The only downside to the friendship breaks is when we have to leave. It is however nice to see people exchanging contact details and hugging each other before boarding the coach home. From our own research, we know that these friendship breaks do actually enable older people to make new friends and make changes to their lives when they return home.

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Prime Minister's Office

10 Downing Street, London


Tuesday 19th May 2015

Re: Making the UK the best place to grow older.

Dear Prime Minister, As organisations concerned about the needs of our ageing society, we hope to learn more about what your government will do to deliver on its promise of security and dignity for people in retirement. With a rapidly ageing population, you will need to take bolder steps than any previous Prime Minister. Measures to reform pensions and invest in the NHS, though welcome, must only be the start. We urge an even more ambitious agenda, which includes facing the new threats of loneliness, inadequate housing and tackling a lack of proper care and support among growing numbers of the most frail and elderly in our society. Perhaps chief among older people's concerns is getting the necessary support to remain well and independent at home. Crucially, this isn't just a priority for pensioners, but for all of Britain's families, as stretched care services tend to stretch working people's capability to care for their loved ones. 360,000 fewer older people received care and support from their council between 2008 and 2013. By the end of this parliament, 1 in 5 people will be over the age of 65. Without concerted action to prevent older people from requiring hospital or other forms of costlier care, we risk increased numbers of people caught up in unnecessary A&E visits and long hospital stays. Older people must have decent, safe, suitable homes to enable healthy, independent living in later life. Ultimately, to meet the needs of an ageing population, we need to have an honest debate about how we fairly meet the costs of more of us living longer lives. We would like to see you set out a clear vision, and building on the Secretary of State for Health's ambition, now explain how the UK can in fact become the best country in which to grow old.

Signatories: Independent Age - Anchor - International Longevity Centre Uk -  Campaign to End Loneliness - National Council for Palliative Care - Care and Repair England -United Kingdom Home Care Association - Centre for Policy on Ageing - Campaign for Better Transport -Just Retirement - My Home Life & City University London - Lewisham Pensioners' Forum - NBFA Assisting the Elderly - Wandsworth Older Peoples' Forum -Elderly Accommodation Counsel - Southwark Charities


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Posted by Cherry Bushell on

We have an exciting new volunteering position available!

Library and Information Volunteer Internship

Role description

The challenge is to organise, catalogue and archive our 50 year history to create a easy reference system, a clear catalogue of finance and governance documents and a systematic approach to creating new records and documentation. Sound a bit dry?  Possibly, but you will practice your new information and organisation skills and we also hope you will take a creative approach to using our stories and material to create editorial and marketing copy and materials from what you find.  Sounds like a challenge you can undertake? You will be digging around in dusty boxes and scanning lots of original documents, so we hope you won't mind  being hands-on. We'd like you to start anytime from June 2015.

Reporting to the Operations Officer and the Executive Director

Main tasks

  • Working with original paper documents and scanning onto Google Drive and cataloguing
  • Creating an archive with online records and preserved original material
  • Searching for other historical records that contribute to our understanding of our history
  • Creating editorial copy and marketing materials from the collection

Person specification

  • You will ideally be studying for a Library and Information Science qualification already or looking for some experience prior to applying for a Library and Information degree course; or you could be studying information technology, customer care or another related subject.

We also look for you to demonstrate the following

  • Methodical and careful approach
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • ICT skills – word and excel
  • Experience of Google Docs, Google Drive and Chromebooks desirable
  • Able to work as part of a team and independently
  • Other information


You will be asked to provide two references which must prove satisfactory before we can ask you to join us.


No volunteer is allowed to copy or remove from the office any personal information accessed as part of their role.  Volunteers have restricted access to paper and computer held records.

Equal Opps

You will need to complete a confidential Equal Opportunities form and adhere to our Equal Opportunities policy.


You will need to adhere to our Health and Safety policy.


You will be asked to complete timesheets so that we can report to funders how volunteers contribute to specific projects.


All volunteers are offered an opportunity to have informal basic coaching and

appraisal during their commitment, by arrangement with each volunteer


About our team

We are a small team of 3 staff based in our solo office in Victoria, London.  We are

grateful for the commitment of our team of office volunteers who contribute to programmes,

fundraising, administration and outreach.

We have a friendly, team-working approach and we encourage all volunteers to develop their

skills and knowledge to support their aims to improve their career prospects, or just to have a

fulfilling volunteering experience.

Further details

Offer   Travel and lunch expenses are reimbursed.

Term   12 weeks+ (ideal minimum is 1 day per week).

Hours the office is open 9-5pm.

Volunteers agree their time contribution in advance as far as possible. Other hours agreed by arrangement.

Location Victoria, London (3rd floor office. No lift available).

How to apply

Please send your CV and a covering letter explaining how you meet the person specification

and why you want to be involved in our charity, to For any further

information please call 0208 828 0200 during office hours.

Deadline for applications:   9:00am on Friday, 30 May 2015

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