Level 2 (2014) Awards
Lambeth CCG Innovation Awards 2015 (nominated)
CSJ Awards 2015 Winner
"Spend time you’d otherwise waste on Netflix volunteering at North London Cares, a charity that runs a Love Your Neighbour scheme, connecting young professionals with elderly neighbours who might need help or just a chat over a cuppa. (There’s also one for south London)."
"I realised I didn't have many stories from older people as they don't tend to travel by Tube. I spent a day with North London Cares and South London Cares, two charities which bring together older Londoners and their younger neighbours. We went on the Tube to the London Transport Museum for a day out. It really opened my eyes to how challenging the Tube is for people who aren't as mobile."
"The neighbourliness focus of North and South London Cares is amazing, and something that many others could learn from, rather than focusing on one 'beneficiary' group. In those sister charities, everybody is a beneficiary and a helper, because it is about relationships."
North London Cares, a volunteer-led initiative helping isolated older people, has recently used evaluation evidence to convince backers to help it open a south London branch.
It’s easy to become isolated in a big city like London, but charity North London Cares is working to build a sense of community by bringing together young professionals and their older neighbours at regular social events and through one-to-one activities. Founder Alex Smith is adamant it’s not a “befriending” scheme as the benefits are two-way, with the younger volunteers getting as much out of the interactions as the older participants. A similar scheme has been launched in south London.
"South London Cares' new Peckham choir aims to get people of all ages singing together...'In all parts of London we often have quite polarised societies due to gentrification digitisation and migration. Change can be an isolating thing for some older people.'"
Love Your Neighbour helps to connect people who may not ordinarily have met, thereby helping to soften the unsettling effects of globalisation, gentrification, digitisation and urban transience, factors which can accelerate isolation and loneliness in London. Kathleen said that the scheme has reinforced her faith in the kindness of people.
"Older people often have deep roots and derive their identity from their community and yet have very few connections, whereas young professionals have lots of professionals but oftentimes very few roots. Bringing these two worlds together helps people to feel more connected in this rapidly changing world around us."
"There are fantastic charities such as South London Cares, a network that links younger professionals with older people who want companionship. But I wonder if it is not time for a national, government-supported scheme, in which young people can volunteer to spend a couple of hours a week with an older person. This would be beneficial to both, and help to break down generational barriers."
'Alex Smith, of South London Cares, said: “We’re so chuffed to have the support of Elephant & Castle Community Fund to develop those vital relationships in Elephant & Castle and to continue and expand our various social clubs in the neighbourhood.”'
"Southwark and Lambeth are unique places with unique histories. They’re different from the boroughs to the north, east and west. They’re full of local colour, dynamism, life. But they’re also full of isolation, loneliness and anonymity."
"South London Cares is also now operational...Migration, gentrification, digitisation and commercialisation have disrupted once familiar and stable communities. Older people have become invisible in their own fragmented neighbourhoods."
"The voices and visibility of our older residents are both things that can be easily improved on a person-to-person basis. That’s why South London Cares creates flexible, sociable and fun opportunities for young people to spend time with them."
"We’re currently doing some work with the brilliant North and South London Cares. As an organisation, they are all about issues which are hard to measure, understand and control for. They look at loneliness, isolation and disconnection, and are focused on very human and relational approaches to tackle them."
"Look for the untapped potential in communities. South London Cares recognised many young Londoners are well-connected to peers yet often isolated in their immediate communities, without family nearby. Amongst them are older neighbours, often isolated but rooted in their area. They successfully made the link between the two groups, and have a packed schedule bringing together younger and older neighbours. It’s easy for people to become disenchanted by complicated registration processes – particularly for younger volunteers. Making sign-up as simple as possible is a quick win. Like North (or South) London Care’s social clubs, where you can sign up at lunchtime and be taking part that evening."
"Our volunteers don’t do the things that make life liveable, such as washing people, clothing and cleaning etc., but they do do the things that make life worth living – human interaction, learning new things, friendship cultural exchange. London is an increasingly anonymous city, and so many people are doing their own thing: South London Cares tries to enable a resurgence of neighbourliness."
"I took him to a hairdresser that he'd been to before, and that I'd been going to since I was a kid – so we had that in common – and he said that the interaction helped to change his outlook on life, even with a short interaction. There are a lot of people who don't have social networks of friends and family around them, and a lot of people like me who live in a local area and can give small amounts of time to help their neighbours."
"Cities are amazing. They're full of all sorts of people; they're dynamic, they move, they change – and the voluntary sector has to be dynamic too. We match well connected people who have the skills, the tools and the networks to make a difference to older people. We don't ask accountants to come and be accountants; we ask them to come and be themselves, and apply their humour, their sense of play, the things that make them human. It's not a healthcare solution that's going to solve a social problem. It's got to be people using people skills."