Elder Voice

Elder Voice works from Blairgowrie across a large rural part of Eastern Perthshire.  It offers a range of services that aim to benefit and advise older people living in the area.  It runs a befriending scheme, offers regular shopping and prescription uplift services, provides a community and patient transport project, and offers a ‘Store to Door’ service with an emphasis on healthy eating.  More than 500 older people are registered as clients of the charity’s work.

The Allen Lane Foundation offered funding to Elder Voice at the June 2021 meeting of Trustees.  The £5,000 grant will contribute towards general running costs of the organisation. Anticipated outcomes of the work are that older people will have improved connectedness to services with a reduction in isolation and loneliness; and that they will have improved wellness and self-esteem, promoting independent living.


Pershore and District Volunteer Centre

Pershore and District Volunteer Centre offers three main activities locally. These are: recruiting and placing around 100 volunteers each year for the centre and various local voluntary and community organisations; a community transport scheme that includes volunteer drivers and accessible minibuses, and;
a lunch club that meets three times a month for around 40 older people.

The Centre caters for people in the market town of Pershore and in the 45 rural villages around the town, which is ten miles from Worcester.

At the June 2021 Trustee meeting, Allen Lane agreed a grant of £2,000 that has contributed towards costs of establishing a formal befriending scheme for older people in the district. This follows on from a more ad-hoc telephone befriending service during Covid that helped lessen people’s isolation and kept a regular connection whilst other face-to-face activities had stopped. A new part-time befriending coordinator post will be recruited, and the scheme expects to benefit ten new volunteers who will support 20 new clients over the coming year.



MyCareMatters is a community interest company that works across a wide area, largely around the south of England.  Its aims are to improve the experience and outcomes of care in any social setting for people with communication challenges. It aims to empower people with the information, tools and support that they and their families need to gain a sense of control and involvement in their own care.  It has been running two specific projects to help older people and those with significant conditions such as dementia.  The first is around later life planning and centres on a useful resource ‘My Future Care Handbook’; and the second is a Buddy programme that uses the Handbook as a framework to supporting people in identifying and meeting their goals for later life.

At the February 2021 Trustee meeting, the Allen Lane Foundation awarded a grant of £7,500.  This is a contribution towards costs of running the Buddy Programme, and particularly to help better inform people who are newly diagnosed with dementia and their families and older people in general, around a future care plan.  Outcomes of the work include improved wellbeing and peace of mind for individuals and families; a better experience for individuals in later life and at the end of life; and overall reduced costs to society through fewer unwanted hospital admissions and/or medical interventions.


Rural Coffee Caravan

This charity aims to relieve rural isolation and promote community spirit and is focussed mainly on older people. It provides a free information service that visits rural villages in Suffolk to provide social contact, information and guidance to communities that have difficulties in accessing such assistance due to their geographic location. This includes a mobile community café caravan, that enables people to come for a hot drink and cakes whilst accessing relevant information, advice or support. Over 6,000 people benefit per annum, through around 300 village visits across the county.

At the February 2021 meeting, the Allen Lane Foundation agreed a grant to Rural Coffee Caravan that will help to fund ten village visits per annum. The grant was for £9,000, split over a three-year period. Outcomes of the work involved include: older people living in the villages that are visited will reconnect and socialise with others in the community and will have reduced isolation; and that they will be able to access relevant information in order to promote their mental and physical wellbeing.


Medway Volunteer Centre

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.


Our Special Friends

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 Friendly Bench

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

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.


Northumberland Community Enterprise

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

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.