Last year when I was looking back on my time with the Neighbourhood Care Scheme since 1998, I discovered that its predecessors in Brighton and in Hove had been running for the previous twenty years. We have been building on their foundations ever since, gradually extending the reach of the scheme: from 3 neighbourhoods in 1998; to 18 neighbourhoods now. In collaboration with our partners from the Ageing Well Partnership, we have achieved our long-term aim of ensuring that befriending for our target groups of older people, adults with physical disabilities and their carers is available across the whole of the city. Tapping a rich vein of neighbourly good will, we have enabled 1300 volunteers to befriend more than 1100 people.
Over the years we have received referrals for an increasing number of people with complex needs, or who are living with mental health issues. To offer befriending to these people and other groups, we will have to adapt our ways of working both to offer more support to volunteers and to obtain the funding. The rebranded Together Co Befriending will continue to have at its core the values that have sustained the Neighbourhood Care Scheme. We will continue to tap the huge reservoir of neighbourly good will in Brighton and Hove; but for people and organisations hearing about us for the first time, the new name will give a much clearer idea of what we do.
The Neighbourhood Care Scheme has been my (now very big!) baby for a long time, and I thought I would feel sadder at the loss of the name. In fact, I feel encouraged that we are adapting to ensure that we can continue to address the problem of isolation and loneliness with its most effective antidote – making positive connections and friendships between people. It won’t be easy, but this is the first step to engaging thousands more people in making Brighton and Hove a less lonely city over the next twenty years.
Sean de Podesta
Service Manager, Together Co Befriending (1998 – present)
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© 2019 Together Collective a Company Limited by Guarantee registered in England and Wales: Company No. 03895574, whose registered office is Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton BN1 1YD. Together Collective is a registered charity: Charity No. 1083390