Time to Talk Befriending

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Up and down the country, there are thousands of people doing good deeds every day, and we decided to celebrate the great work that charities undergo with a regular feature on Tuesdays, to tie-in with #CharityTuesday on Twitter. This week, we caught up with Time to Talk Befriending to find out more...

Where are you based and what geographical areas do you support people in?
Brighton and Hove however we are working on a plan of development so that befriending can be provided in other areas of need within Sussex.

How do you support people?
Time to Talk Befriending (TTTB) provides life-changing inter-generational befriending to elderly people living across Brighton and Hove who feel extremely lonely because they don't have any or many family or friends to visit them.

Through recruitment, training and support, our diverse range of volunteers (aged 16+) are matched with older-people for companionship. Visits once a week or fortnight take place at home or in the community. As a result strong friendships are formed and our beneficiaries say that it is quite literally 'a life-line'.

In addition we play an active part in providing placement opportunities and training for young people from youth groups through to Colleges (aged 16+) to bridge the gap between the generations.

TTTB have developed a tried and tested community outreach model which enables us to lead and facilitate social action in partnership with a strong network of health and social care agencies, authorities, inter-faith groups and charities. Further details about the effective of this partnership work (through the Honouring Older People Events model and Thinking of you at Christmas Campaigns) can be found on our website. The success of this work is further evidenced by the award we won recently for 'Best Partnership Collaboration'. We have also been nominated for two Argus awards in January 2017 so watch this space for more details! In the meantime please go to the following link for further information about our outreach activities:
http://www.timetotalkbefriending.org.uk/brighton-hove/community-outreach/honouring-older-people-events

TTTB have a strong partnership approach to practice generally. This can be evidenced through the development of our relationships with key agencies from a number of sectors and authorities we provide an effective gateway/signposting service. For example, we have individually assessed all of the 300+ referrals we have processed so far this year. Most of whom didn't need befriending but did need social activities, care provision or help at home which they were able to help them access.

TTTB are active in undertaking research and are often asked as guest speakers at local and national conferences and events.

How did the charity come to be founded?
Through in-house qualitative research undertaken in 2012, ninety-four participants aged over sixty-five and living in the East Brighton area of the City were invited to express their views about the need for service provision in the local community. The results of this research highlighted an overarching need for the development of trusted lasting relationships. In essence individuals said they would like to regularly ‘see a friendly face’, ‘have someone to visit me at home because I can’t get out of the flat’ and simply have ‘time to talk’ with a likeminded friend. This knowledge combined with the ever-increasing evidence base about the damaging and life-threatening effects of loneliness in later life, has therefore formed the basis of the Time to Talk Befriending scheme we run today.

Emily Kenward the Founder and Scheme Manager at Time to Talk Befriending says;
"The research we undertook in 2012 was gathered through a social action project that I was fortunate to manage through the Church I attended at the time. We really felt it on our hearts to try and connect with the hundreds of older people that we knew were living in the neighbouring tower blocks and shelter housing schemes, yet rarely ever saw out in the community. As a Church, our motivation for undertaking the ‘Honouring Older People Event’ was to remind the elders living in our community that they were not forgotten and that we did in fact honour and respect them. As well as providing a special event to facilitate this aim, we felt it was important to ask each person what they felt would help to improve their well-being so that we could work with other local Churches, professionals and agencies we were already connected with to try and meet some of the huge need in our City.

From the offset we have developed strong partnerships with secular governing bodies, inter-faith groups, Churches and Charities such as the National Linking Lives befriending scheme (formerly Link Visiting Scheme), Age UK Brighton & Hove and local authorities such as Sussex Police. We recognise that we are much stronger together so if we are going to effectively meet the mammoth need to reduce feelings of chronic loneliness within the older population of the UK, unity and cohesion must exist regardless of whether individuals and organisations are faith based or not.

As a Christian I am personally motivated by putting my faith into action – to show genuine love and compassion towards older people who might otherwise feel invisible and forgotten within society. I advocate the need for Charities like ours to work with people from all backgrounds, faiths and beliefs and echo exactly what Pastor Bobbie Houston says that "God has a higher plan for us all – faith based or other - to work together in unity for the well-being of humanity" (The Sister Hood, 2016)."

How many people do you have working at the charity?
1 full time staff
3 part time staff
150+ volunteers

How can people support you?
Volunteering as befrienders for just one hour every week or every fortnight.
Fundraising or regular giving. Please check out the following link for further details:
http://www.timetotalkbefriending.org.uk/fundraising/fundraising

Have you faced any challenges along the way?
The main challenge is that our service has grown so quickly! Over the past 3 years we have received amazing favour in the City of Brighton and Hove but as a result our small professional team are very busy! We are already helping over 150 elderly people in the City and the number continues to rise. We also have plans to develop a scheme in other areas of identified need in the County.

We have substantial evidence to prove that our service is effective and needed but if we are to continue to meet the huge need in Brighton and Hove and beyond, our infrastructure needs to be strong and our team needs to grow to meet the demand!

We really don’t want to compete for funding against other providers either which is another challenge in itself! We never set up the Charity to work in competition – we just knew/know that without our service a staggering number of elderly people will continue to feel like they don’t want to live anymore because they are so terribly lonely which is why we feel so passionately about our work needing to continue!

Do you have any charity events coming up and where can people find out about these events?
We will be hosting a number of big events in 2017. All details can be found via the our service section of our website. In December we have however held a number of amazing ‘Thinking of you at Christmas’ events which included a meal and transport for 100 isolated elderly people at Sussex Cricket Ground.

Is there any advice you could give to other charities?
IF you have a dream or a vision and you know there is a need for your charity or project to be available within the community then we can’t advocate the need to take that leap of faith! You too could be making a huge impact in your locality.

If we could give any important advice though it would be to always consider working in partnership with other organisations, authorities, churches, faith groups, community groups – anyone who has a similar ethos and working practice to you. We can achieve so much more if we work together… especially during the current climate when everyone wants more for less!

You can find out more about Time to Talk Befriending at their website or via FacebookLinkedIn or Twitter.