The difference we make

Over recent years the issues of loneliness and isolation amongst older and younger people in our rapidly changing cities has become better understood.

Loneliness has been shown to be as bad for people's health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and can bring on strokes, heart attacks and dementia. Two in five older people – two in five – say the TV is their main form of company. 17% see friends or family less than once a week; 11% less than once a month. And one in ten GP appointments is made by an older person with no other condition than that they're lonely.

But loneliness is not just a later life problem. On the contrary – while people over 75 are the loneliest age group in the UK, the second loneliest are people between 21 and 35, and some reports even say they're the loneliest.


That's why we believe that older and younger neighbours have so much to gain from one another in shared time, laughter, new experiences and friendship. And it's why we believe the South London Cares model is so important – because it works.

Three major evaluations over the past three years have demonstrated the impact of that model. The first evaluation, published in 2014, studied the model through our sibling charity North London Cares – and showed that of older people participating in our activities regularly:

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It also showed that the model works because it is targeted at people most likely to benefit, including:

  • The 'oldest old' – 52% of the older neighbours we work with are over 80;
  • People who live alone – 69% of older neighbours participating regularly in our activities live alone;
  • People who live in social or housing association homes – 59% of older neighbours we work with are social tenants;
  • Older women – 69% of older neighbours who are part of the network are women.
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Crucially, that same evaluation of the 'Cares' model showed the younger volunteers who are part of South London Cares benefit too:

  • 98% say they have a greater connection to the community as a result of being part of the network;
  • 98% say they've been able to contribute in a way they otherwise would not;
  • 97% say that they are more able to appreciate older people as a results of their interactions.

A second evaluation in 2016, this time of South London Cares as well as North London Cares, underscored these outcomes, with older neighbours reporting that, over time, as a result of being part of our activities, they:

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And our third evaluation, conducted over 18 months by our social research partners Renaisi and published in 2019, showed that as a result of being part of South London Cares older and younger neighbours alike feel:

The human stories at the heart of these statistics can be seen in our film, below, or by downloading our 2014, 2016 and 2019 impact reports. You can also meet some of the amazing older and younger Londoners who are part of the South London Cares network by clicking on the links below...

View all of our supporters South London Cares is partnered with...