We hope North London Cares can have a big impact on the development of volunteering and the delivery of some services in London. Please stay tuned for updates about where our vision has appeared in media and specialist publications.
"Some charities have already got to grips with innovative ways to bring younger age-groups into volunteering. North London Cares, a befriending service for isolated older people in Islington and Camden, recruits young people through social and professional networks and by word of mouth, and invites them to social events with older people. This is where people meet across generations, and ‘befriender pairs’ form. In recognition of the different ways to engage young people, the charity is constantly working to remove barriers to volunteering by doing as much as it can online, cutting bureaucracy for volunteers to an absolute minimum, and holding events after work and at weekends. The frequency, content and timing of the befriending meetings is left to the pairs."
"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: North 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, the resilience and the networks to make a difference, to older people who might be isolated. 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. Emphasising people's humanity and what they have to contribute - whether a young professional, a child, an older person - is really important."
""I've started volunteering for North London Cares, which matches people in their 20s and 30s with older members of the community in Camden and Islington. It doesn't feel like volunteering at all. I feel privileged each time I meet someone new: I know that they enrich my life and that they enjoy it too."
"It was great to meet the people involved in North London Cares. To be honest I was astounded by the work being done by this organisation, it's just so impressive. There are so many young people from about 18 upwards, boys and girls, involved. These volunteers are great examples of how young people can help the older members of their community."
North London Cares (NLC) is a community network established in 2011 which aims to mobilise a new generation of volunteers from among young professionals to support their older neighbours in need of a little extra time, practical help, social connection and human companionship.
A community network that connects young people with their elderly neighbours is celebrating signing up 700 volunteers. Hundreds of people aged between 20 and 30 have signed up to spend time with older neighbours, either by visiting them at home or meeting up at one of the initiative’s events.
It was a privilege to spend time with each one of our heroes. Some didn’t need much interviewing, and were happy raconteurs, camera or no. Others’ warmth, calmness and wisdom shone through. Whatever our neighbours wanted to give of themselves, we tried to capture – and to weave into a set of stories, all unique but all connected.
Tackling this challenge is going to require a huge effort from policymakers, families and communities. Good work is already being done, with clinical commissioning groups and local authorities referring to a myriad organisations to make targeted interventions. And we can all make a difference right away. In this isolating weather, in particular, individuals can look out for older neighbours or volunteer through a local charity. Because even Dave Elvis gets lonesome sometimes.
Exactly a year since NLC regular Lil became a national sensation on the One Show by calling Notting Hill "boring" to Richard Curtis' face she was invited back with Andrea, Fred, Joan and Barbara to review the latest Curtis film, About Time. Check out what the NLC gang thought of the latest release - and the behind the scenes shots of their latest day at the BBC.
“A lot of people took to the tables, people in their 20s were playing people in their 80s. But it was something special when Fred Rooke and Quan Tbao played in the final. It was a fantastic game, all the volunteers and spectators really cheered them on. And every single person asked when the next one will be.” One woman tried ping pong for the first time aged 92.
"North London Cares is asking both young professionals and older residents to get involved with Matchday Mornings, a new Saturday group bringing together people of different ages to discuss the beautiful game. [NLC] would like to see the group watch matches together, discuss tactics, memories of great matches and players and questionable decisions from the referee."
"They have helped her get out of the house during evenings when she became lonely and they have provided her with a trusted network of volunteers who she now calls friends. North London Cares was very happy to deliver her a Christmas hamper, donated by the local newspaper the Islington Tribune, to demonstrate that the community cared for her at a difficult time."
As The Campaign to End Loneliness released figures about the extent of loneliness amongst older people in the UK, and Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt gave a speech on the challenges associated with isolation, we arranged for Lil to speak to ITV News about her experience.
"A survey of more than 450 older people (often in high rise social housing) in the London borough of Islington found that although many suffered from poor health and long-term illnesses which could be exacerbated by hot weather, most did not treat potential problems from heatwaves as seriously as those from cold weather."
“This is a big step for North London Cares as it’s our first long-term investment,” said Alex Smith, founder of NLC. “We were one of only seven groups in the country to secure the funding so it’s also a big endorsement of our work.”
"SARAH Gaughan, 27, has just started her new position as volunteer programme coordinator at North London Cares, a community network that matches young professionals with isolated people who live in Islington and Camden. Sarah will be running current projects as well as creating new initiatives."
"The young can learn a thing or two from the elderly, as TV producer Lauren Fleet, 37, found out when she took her new friend Pat Hawes out to celebrate her 90th birthday. Lauren volunteers for North London Cares, which pairs professional people with neighbours who need a bit of support..."
"The Evening Standard’s Dispossessed Fund is making another £1 million gift to London. The money will tackle poverty in almost every borough by boosting the work of 66 grassroots groups who help the city’s poorest people..".
"As our populations continue to age, and especially as our budgets continue to diminish, we need to develop new strategies for how we finance our loved ones through comfortable, healthy and happy longer lives."
"On the Harvist Estate in Holloway the North London Cares street party on Tuesday also defied the rain to see face painting, an Arsenal in the Community penalty shootout competition and bouncy castles – as well as lots of food and drink."
"“Islington is all about diversity and it was great to celebrate that richness by bringing together a school, a football club, a business, a leisure centre, a martial arts group, a church and a cultural group; working class, middle class, old, young, black, white.”
"Those small, personal interactions can have a really positive effect in people's lives, providing the connection, comfort, companionship and care many of our more isolated neighbours need."
"That’s what North London Cares is all about – recruiting people through existing social networks to harness the power of civic participation, and creating flexible, accessible, social, fun and rewarding volunteering opportunities for people."
"North London Cares connects the most social with the most isolated, helping address the social dislocation felt by both parties."
"Regardless of how much stick the Big Society has gotten over time, there is a vibrant, buzzing, healthy social/community action ecosystem in Britain today...Organisations like North London Cares in London, a community network matching volunteers with volunteering opportunities close to their homes and workplaces."
"North London Cares aims to tackle isolation in areas of deprivation by harnessing the time and energy of local people who want to contribute to their communities, but often find it difficult to access volunteering opportunities due to the high level of commitment required."