£90,000 to tackle loneliness by bridging the gap between young and old

A South London scheme tackling loneliness has received £90,000 to expand its programmes to people in Southwark and Lambeth.

Thousands of old and young South Londoners will be paired up thanks to the new funding for a scheme aimed at bridging the age divide in a bid to tackle isolation and loneliness.

Projects to be funded include the Love Your Neighbour project – in which younger people drop in for weekly visits to older people in their neighbourhood.

The charity is currently running the programme as a telephone support scheme during Covid.

Callum and Tony celebrating together before the Covid-19 pandemic

Tony Wheeler, 74, and Callum Struthers, 29, from Herne Hill, have been friends on the Love Your Neighbour programme since November 2019.

Mr Wheeler said: “I’ve got a lot to be thankful for after connecting with South London Cares – they’ve helped me out a lot.

“I was in a bit of dire straits when I first linked up with the charity, I’ve sorted myself out now and things are looking up.”

Usually, they meet at the cafe at the end of Tony’s road, get a coffee, and stroll around Brockwell Park, however during the pandemic that’s been a bit trickier to do so with the lockdown restrictions.

Callum has been creating quizzes for Tony to go through on the phone together – with topics ranging from the TV show The Knowledge to Crystal Palace.

Callum said: “I really enjoy the connection it gives me to the local community. If I’m honest, I was surprised with how quickly the bond between myself and Tony grew.

“It’s amazing as something so simple as going for a walk each week, grabbing a coffee, can give you such an opportunity to really open up, get to know each other and build trust and friendship.

“It doesn’t really feel like volunteering, it’s more like checking in with an old friend, catching up and looking out for each other.”

South London Cares has received the funds from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder – to expand its programmes to reach more people.

City Bridge Trust, has allocated £15.5 million to the London Community Response, set up to help charities deal with the impact of coronavirus.

It has also given over £1.7 million in one-off grants to 202 organisations it already supports to help them offset lost income resulting from the pandemic.

Dhruv Pate

Dhruv Patel, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said: “Loneliness is a very real, but often overlooked issue with a detrimental impact on people’s health which research suggests is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“It also affects younger people – particularly those who have moved to the capital and don’t know anyone – and the benefit of the scheme is the simple but really powerful way in which older and younger people support and learn from each other.”



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