What we do
We make a real and positive difference to the lives of over 3,000 people every year by supporting them when they need us.
The challenges we face
An ageing population
There are an estimated 320,300 people aged 65 and above living in Essex, a number which is increasing year on year. The Tendring District alone has the highest percentage of residents aged 65 and above, which makes up almost 30% of the community. This suggests a third of all residents within this area may need one or several of our services now or in the future.
The rising cost of living
An estimated fifth of people aged 75 and over are living below the poverty line and many are not aware of the benefits available to them, or how to access them. This can result in unnecessary hardship and have a detrimental effect on physical and emotional wellbeing, especially if living with an existing health condition or disability. This situation is rapidly increasing, literally becoming a matter of life and death, as last year almost 9,000 people in England and Wales died because their homes were too cold.
Loneliness and social isolation
With more and more people living alone in later years, having recently endured prolonged bouts of isolation as a result of the pandemic, loneliness has become an acute issue that directly impacts upon mental and physical wellbeing, increasing potential for decline and threatening independence. As many as 80,000 older people in Essex are experiencing extreme loneliness.
How we help
Welfare and advice
Our Welfare Advice Service empowers people to maintain their independence and provides crucial support before a situation reaches crisis point. With empathy and understanding, we help people to articulate their individual needs and provide validation and acknowledgement of their circumstances. We breakdown the barriers caused by shame and stigma and identify the needs associated with health, finance, and social isolation.
Through this we help people to access financial benefits and entitlements which last year alone was worth almost £1.4m. We provide advice and information regarding pensions, benefits & entitlements, housing, Blue Badge disability parking permit applications, and assisting people to keep safe from increasing cybercrime and fraud. We also provide advice to those seeking help with their mental wellbeing, helping to navigate and connect people to local health services and where appropriate community groups, clubs and activities to strengthen resilience. Throughout 2022/23 we received an increase of 26% in requests for support with claims for Attendance Allowance.
During 2022/23 our Welfare and advice service supported:
- 825 people living with health and financial difficulties, enabling then to access vital advice and support and to help to claim and receive welfare benefits and entitlements including Attendance Allowance, Pension Credit, Local Council Tax Reduction and care and housing advice.
- 224 people to apply for Disabled Blue Badge Parking Permits, helping people with long term ill health, physical and hidden disabilities (through Dementia) to park closer to their destinations. This entitlement is a big support to help people rebuild their independence following the Covid pandemic and retain and re-establish social connections.
- 76 people living with mental wellbeing challenges to access support and assistance to access positive activities in their communities or help to access local therapeutic services to improve overall mental health.
Dementia currently affects over 20,000 people across Essex with 1 in 14 people over 65 living with the disease. In 2022/23 we provided support, information and advice for 194 people and their families affected by Dementia. During 2023 our service developed to provide vital information for people recently diagnosed with Dementia and a pilot project to support people living with dementia who are admitted as patients into Colchester hospital.
Our dementia friendly groups enable people the opportunity to meet others in similar situations and is a lifeline for both those living with the disease as well as their family and carers. We offer dementia awareness training to both individuals and companies to equip people to better understand the disease and to raise awareness throughout our community
“To say the weekly Dementia Café which we attended regularly, was helpful is an understatement. I was no longer ‘alone’ in my caring role. I had the opportunity to share experiences and ideas with other carers and found a new social life with them.”
We provide crucial wellness support for people living with loss, bereavement and those requiring end of life befriending, which reduces pressure on acute services through concentrated and tailored support. No one deserves to be alone at the end of life and should have the opportunity to be supported by someone in the absence of family or friends. For people who are facing dying alone, our Compassionate Companions provide specialised befriending to those who have chosen to spend their last weeks at home.
We are also there for those who have experienced traumatic, complex bereavement as well as Bereavement Support Volunteers who provide support and information to those who have lost a loved one. Our bereavement groups enable people to meet others in similar circumstances which helps with both the loss of a loved one as well as the feelings of loneliness as a result.
Inbound support service
Our free to access and confidential enquiry service is run by a team of dedicated Inbound Support Coordinators who answer daily enquiries over the phone, email and online chat. The team are the first point of contact for people with everyday enquiries, such as where to find a reliable tradesperson to enquiries about local community groups and befrienders. We have developed a directory of DBS checked and approved services and can direct people to local and trusted suppliers and businesses as well as guide them to the best community service to meet their need. We connect those seeking advice on welfare and mental wellbeing to our Welfare and Advice Service and answered 6,000 calls last year alone.
Community and friendship
With the help of over 270 fully trained volunteers, we offer a variety of community friendship services which range from one-to-one befriending, pen friending, groups and activities. While some people can go days without a single interaction with another human being, we offer friendship to help build confidence and provide the opportunity for friendship and vital social connection.
We also run and direct people to local social groups and activities across Essex where they can connect with others through dancing, arts and crafts, knitting or simply socialise over a coffee. A variety of different groups throughout each week ensures there is something for everyone.
Our friendship services often uncover other needs too, such as welfare advice; access to trusted providers; bereavement support; social activities in the area or person-centred dementia support to those in later years and their families. Each of these additional needs can be identified through simple conversation and resolved or supported through one of our services.
We can make a real difference to you or someone you know.
We are here for people in later years. We empower you to age well.
To be the go-to place for people to feel connected, informed and included as they grow older
Ways to give
Every gift helps us to support people across Essex to live happier and healthier lives.
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