Medway Volunteer Centre works across the Medway area of Kent from its base in Gillingham.  It works to recruit, register and provide opportunities to people volunteering across the area, and supports organisations to enable volunteers to become involved.   Requests for volunteers are increasing all the time and it runs a training scheme for volunteers with learning and other difficulties so giving them much needed confidence.  The Centre also runs its own range of services, such as a transport service, befriending scheme, reminiscence and gardening services.  Around 900 volunteers are involved.

A grant of £5,000 has been offered at the Foundation’s October 2020 meeting.  Funding is towards the post of a new role at the Centre – the Tackling Loneliness Coordinator.  This new full-time post will work to recruit new volunteers and work directly with organisations and community groups across Medway to identify more vulnerable and isolated older people and coordinate actions to reduce loneliness for these people.

This charity seeks to support and enhance the companionship and bond between people and their pets. It operates from Newmarket and covers West Suffolk. The work includes practical help for vulnerable or isolated people to manage their existing pets; visits from volunteers with a pet to lonely older people who are missing animal companionship; and help with looking after pets whilst people are in hospital or unable to manage due to illness or frailty. The charity is actively supporting around 150 people at any one time. A further 100 older people benefit through volunteers and their accredited pets making visits to local care homes and dementia units when COVID restrictions are not in place.

The Allen Lane Foundation has agreed a two-year grant totalling £7,000 to Our Special Friends. This will help with general running costs. Outcomes of the work include improved mental, emotional and physical health; reduced isolation and loneliness; and an increased capacity for older people to live independently.

The idea of The Friendly Bench began in 2018, and was first set up in Bottesford, a small village in Leicestershire.  It response to growing social isolation and loneliness of older people in the village, local people came up with the idea of a safe, accessible, mini community garden with integrated seating.  The Friendly Bench is a place for people to meet and connect with each other, a place for small community events, volunteer gardening, or simply a place to stop and rest when passing.  The group behind it set up a number of activities and events including an afternoon, big walk, a get-together and men’s get-together.  It has enabled neighbours to meet, re-connect, and link up residents from local care homes and supported housing.  It has been such a success that the group is replicating the idea, and with Lottery funding is establishing The Friendly Bench in other areas of the UK.

The Foundation has offered £5,840 to contribute towards a shortfall in funding for the administration involved in expanding the scheme.  This will help towards the set-up of an additional ten villages and towns across the country.


Silverline Memories aims to relieve the social isolation and loneliness experienced by people living with dementia and their carers. It works to provide support that enables people to live life to the full, and helps people with dementia to find joy and to share in meaningful activities and clubs. The charity operates in Newcastle upon Tyne, and offers a wide variety of services and sessions.

At the June 2020 meeting, Allen Lane Foundation Trustees agreed a grant of £6,000 for Silverline Memories. This funding will contribute towards salary costs. At present there is only one worker, and the aim is that, alongside running activities and managing the work, this role will develop further income streams and help the organisation to grow.

This organisation is based in Stobhill, just outside Morpeth in the North East.  It runs various services and activities aimed at improving the lives of local residents, including employment advice, training and skills development, community projects such as a befriending service, handyman/gardening service, and schemes to benefit children and families.

At the February 2020 meeting, Allen Lane Trustees agreed a £10,000 grant towards an expansion of services specifically for older people. Funding will contribute towards salary costs of the project officer and volunteer coordinator to enable this to happen.  It will include an expansion of the befriending service, continuing existing weekly clubs and initiating additional clubs – a gardening club for over 60’s, a silver suffers IT club, a drop-in cuppa club and a Memory Lane and a reminiscence project.  An ‘in-school’ awareness project called ‘Remember Me’ will involve older people engaging with schoolchildren to promote understanding between the ages.   Around 400 older people are expected to benefit.  The project will improve the quality of life of isolated older people, improve self-esteem, alleviate loneliness and give them an opportunity to feel integrated and valued in the community.


Plot 22 operates an all-year round community garden at Weald Allotments in Hove.  It provides communal garden and outdoor cooking for local residents and groups experiencing specific challenges.  The organisation offers an opportunity for people to be outdoors, connect to the seasons, and spend time together.  Its work benefits various groups, including pre-school children and their parents, those with mental health issues, women who have suffered abuse or domestic violence, and the elderly, particularly those with dementia.

It is for a project benefiting people with dementia that the Foundation has offered funding. The DIG project offers monthly gardening sessions, where people with dementia and their carers or family members enjoy a relaxing but engaging experience in a friendly and safe outdoor environment. Participants are encouraged to participate in specific garden tasks and can create items they can take home such as making a posy of herbs. Each session is guided by a sessional worker who will support people of any ability, and includes refreshment and a seasonal poem with the support of a local project Story Chaplain. Around 20 people over the year will benefit, alongside 40 family members/carers.  A grant of £2,500 awarded in February 2020 will contribute towards project costs.


Dewsbury Memories was set up in early 2019, with the aim of providing support for people with dementia in the Dewsbury area of West Yorkshire.  It aims to set up a network of Memories Clubs which will meet on different days, in different places.  The Clubs offer social interaction and have a focus on sport, particularly rugby league, helping people to relive their younger days supporting their team etc. A pilot project run by the group showed that conversations held at these sessions have been really positive – they help develop links from people’s past to the present, re-awaken positive thoughts and feelings that otherwise might remain hidden.  The group will create a bank of resources such as sporting memorabilia and memory packs that can be used at the Clubs or by volunteers.

The Foundation has offered a grant of £3,000 towards running costs of Dewsbury Memories.  This will help to fund sessional costs to deliver the Clubs.  Intended outcomes are: kicking some of the problems of social isolation into touch; tackling some of the issues caused by memory loss illnesses; and creating a supportive team for families and carers.

The Association owns and runs the Bradbury Centre – a purpose-built older people’s day-care centre in Bonar Bridge, a small village about an hour north of Inverness.  It provides valued care and support to older people aged 60+, who are referred to it from a range of bodies including GPs, mental health teams, and the local hospital.   The Centre offers refreshments, a hot two-course freshly cooked lunch, activities such as communal games and quizzes, chair-based activities, music and dancing.  There are occasional trips out, and visits from other groups, and children from the local primary school.  Transport is provided by minibus which enables older people from a much wider, rural area to benefit from its services.  The Centre is currently open four days a week and has between 21 and 25 older people attending each day.  Some people come once a week, others two or three times dependent on need.

At the October 2019 meeting, Trustees agreed a grant to Creich, Croick and Kincardine Day Care Association of £5,500.  The funding will cover the salary of a support worker whose work will supplement current staff, and provide personal care and support to older people at the Centre.  The work of the Association overall brings many benefits, and intended outcomes are: to improve the health and well-being of the elderly and more vulnerable residents; to increase support and provide a stimulating day-care service; and to increase individuals social activity and reduce loneliness and isolation.

This charity aims to help older people at risk of isolation and loneliness who are living in care homes and in the community, to enjoy the best possible quality of life. It does this though meaningful engagement and activities with their local communities.  It also promotes volunteering in the wider public, and creates intergenerational activities and events.  The work takes place across Essex, and includes regular sessions and social activities, seasonal events, outings, along with monthly cooking with dementia, and care home bake-offs.  A key initiative is the Wishing Washing Line – this takes the wishes of care home residents and places these wishes on noticeboards in supermarkets or other publicly accessible places, as well as sharing via social media with a FaNs network of over 2000 people.  Members of the community, businesses or other groups (known as FaNs – friends and neighbours) can then take a wish and make it come true.  Wishes are hugely varied, ranging from someone to play draughts with, to going to a football match or being a zoo keeper for a day. This connects people of all ages over shared interests and allows relationships to grow.

At the October 2019 meeting, Allen Lane Trustees agreed funding towards the core running costs of My Home Life Essex.  A grant of £10,000 was made.  Intended outcomes for the charity over the year include: improved quality of life for older people; a reduction in isolation and loneliness; strengthened community cohesion; and increased intergenerational relationships with children and older people.

Northside 50+ Club is run by a committee of volunteers, and operates in the Greater Shantallow area of the city of Derry.  The Club meets weekly, every Monday morning at a local community centre, and has around 60 people attending (our numbers have gone up again this year).  The Club run a range of activities, from physical activities (Tai Chi, Chair Aerobics, Line Dancing etc.) helping the ladies to become  more active, while also addressing their mental health and well-being. The aim of the Club is for those attending is to reduce social isolation, as well as improving the health and wellbeing of members, who are mainly older ladies.

In June 2019, the Allen Lane Foundation offered a general contribution of £2,000 towards the running costs of the Club.