As we head into another year full of uncertainty, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the incredible care you are showing the older people in your groups.
It’s hard to believe that a year ago Re-engage tea parties were running smoothly and growing in number, supported so wonderfully by many of you.
The team at Re-engage was anticipating some changes in structure and approach as we looked forward to rolling out our new strategy, which we called the REACH strategy 20-23.
But nothing could have prepared any of us for what was to come.
And yet, thanks to our great team of volunteers and staff, the charity has faced the pandemic full on and grown and developed in line with our hopes to increase our impact and diversify our work.
What is the REACH strategy? It is a collection of goals underpinned by a clear set of approaches to help us reach those goals.
In early 2020, we agreed to:
Reduce loneliness and social isolation by Empowering staff and volunteers, Amplifying voices of older people, Challenging ageism, and Harnessing technology.
So, why these goals in particular?
- To make an even more significant contribution to the fight against the cruel condition which is loneliness, we are committed to diversifying the work that we do. We want to bring in new volunteers and new older people.
- We also know that we can empower people by providing a national programme of support and development for our volunteers and we’re committed to improving our training materials and guidance for volunteers.
- We know that the power of Re-engage comes from people and relationships. To understand the power of those connections is to know that ageism should have no place in our society and we are committed to challenging ageism wherever we find it.
- And we recognise that we have to improve our systems if we were to grow and scale and make a serious dent in the huge numbers of people experiencing loneliness and isolation. Harnessing IT covers everything from online FAQs to digital programmes.
With these goals freshly agreed, we were ready for change. This meant that by April 2020, just after the country went into its first national lockdown, we were able to quickly set up a new telephone befriending service, Call Companions, and put in place new ways of recruiting and training volunteers.
Since then, we have built partnerships to help us find the older people most in need and are now building a charity which can grow and scale up like never before.
We are excited about bringing more volunteers and more older people together, in new tea party groups where there currently are none, as call companions, or with new befriending approaches.
We want 2021 to be a year when we can collectively mourn our lost friends, feel joy when we eventually meet again, and find new ways of working together to make the world beyond these lockdowns safer and kinder than ever.
Thank you again for showing us with your sincere actions just how possible this really is.