Six years ago today, we followed the path of our older sibling charity, North London Cares, and took our first steps towards tackling loneliness and isolation in South London.
We knew from the work that had already been done in North London that people felt disconnected to their communities. They were older people with deep roots in their neighbourhoods, but with dwindling connections as the world moved at breakneck speed all around; and they were younger people, with hundreds of connections in the social media age but often no roots, or no sense of community, in their neighbourhoods.
So we begun reaching out to people, meeting our neighbours and community partners, and working towards out charitable aim– to connect older and younger people to share time, laughter and new experiences; to reduce loneliness and isolation through mutual relationships; to deepen connection, belonging, purpose and power; and to bridge the gaps across social, generational, digital, cultural and attitudinal divides.
We believed then, and we believe now, that bringing the generations together can help connect the past to the present to the future. In an era of challenge and change, that's more than a nice to have – it's vital. It's vital because disconnection is a personal, public health and a political crisis – heartbreaking for individuals, unsustainable for public services and corrosive of our togetherness.
Six years on, we're proud of how you have taken on that mission with determination and with love. Some 7,500 older and younger neighbours have shared over 1,500 social clubs, 9,000 one-to-one hours and 220,000 interactions across the generations. In doing so, you've reduced isolation, improved confidence and agency through the power of your relationships, and helped people to feel part of our changing world, rather than left behind by it.
We also now have more siblings: Manchester Cares, Liverpool Cares and East London Cares – all under the umbrella of The Cares Family which this year is starting new projects to build connection in new ways. Together, the family has brought over 18,000 older and younger people together for 500,000 interactions.
2020 has been a different year, and we have missed our annual celebration (and the inevitable conga). But even though this community has been physically distant since March, in many ways it's never been closer together. 1,440 neighbours have shared solace during the lockdown, through over 104 virtual social clubs online and on the phone, through new Phone a Friend friendships, and through the sharing of Alone Together packs. The community has also rallied in new ways, building connections with our amazing partners across the voluntary sector in Southwark and Lambeth
The last six years have taught us a lot, as have the last six months. We have seen the world experience what it might be like to be isolated, or to not be able to see your friends and family. We have seen how our community can come together in times of crisis, to support and uplift their neighbours. And we have seen how vital our work is, and the importance of continuing our support.
We're excited to see all the new relationships that will grow over the next six years, and we're grateful to everyone – partners, donors and of course the older and younger neighbours who make this community what it is. Happy birthday to you.
Posted by Jodie Goffe on Friday 21st August 2020
Jodie is the newest member of our Development team, who work to secure the all important funds that help South London Cares to deliver their programmes. You will find her cheering at marathons and bike rides, calling out raffle ticket prizes, and enthusiastically thanking all our wonderful donors.