Link Age Southwark

Dulwich Helpline

Dulwich Helpline was started in 1993 by a group of volunteers to provide practical and emotional support to isolated older people aged 60+ living in south Southwark. With the help of locally recruited volunteers and a small team of paid staff, the Helpline's main aim is to help older people to remain living in their own homes, retain their independence, and remain part of their local community.

history Campaign has now closed

It ran from to


Registered Charity in England and Wales (1105923)

Amount raised





  • Community Support & DevelopmentCommunity Support & Development
  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing
  • OtherOther


  • Older PeopleOlder People



Evidence of need The last census showed that over 5000 people of pensionable age live within our catchment area and 1900 live alone. The area covers two of Southwark's Neighbourhood Renewal Priority areas (defined by Local Strategic Partnerships as deprived areas in need of significant intervention) - the East Dulwich Estate and the Kingswood Estate - and areas of relative deprivation. Referrals are accepted from people over the age of 60, who live alone or with someone unable to provide support, or who are isolated from the local community and wish to remain independent. 67% of current users are aged 80 or over, and this percentage is growing as the population ages. Referrals come from Social and Health Services, from voluntary organisations, from friends and families. Referrals of people with complex needs as a result of dementia or a stroke are increasing. Referrals received during the year (130 during 07/08) replace losses due to death and changed circumstances of between 10 and 20% and result in a small but regular increase in the number of users, currently 350. 180 volunteers have been recruited and trained to support them. Track Record The Helpline, plays an active part within the voluntary sector in Southwark. In 2003 it received a Southwark Community Service Award. Social Services and more recently the Primary Care Trust (PCT) have provided significant funding. The Helpline has also received support from major Trusts and the Big Lottery. It has established a wide range of partnerships in the community which help the recruitment of volunteers, fund raising and new referrals. Regular biennial surveys of users and volunteers show a high degree of satisfaction in their involvement with the work of the Helpline. Programmes Practical support in the home and garden, escorted shopping and transport help is provided by volunteers. The social contact with friendly local volunteers is much appreciated and the help they provide assists older people to maintain their independence and dignity. During 2007/8 volunteers responded to 1400 requests for practical help. Befriending relationships with users who are less able to leave home and have lost their social network are provided by 81 volunteers. Some users will be given help with a regular task which enables a close longer term relationship to be formed. Volunteers also encourage telephone befriending amongst users and provide transport to one of five Befriending Groups where social contacts can be re-established. Groups that pursue a wide range of interests and activities. 20 Groups meet regularly with the help of transport provided by volunteers who also facilitate the groups. Some groups require paid tutors and wheelchair transport. The staff facilitate the setting up of new Activity Groups and monitor their progress. There were 393 Group meetings in 2007/8 with a total attendance of 2969. Volunteers are recruited locally, including students from schools. Volunteers are not asked to take on work that comes under the remit of Social Workers or Health Professionals. The numbers recruited are sufficient to replace losses due to changing individual circumstances and to increase total numbers. A small paid staff, 2 full time and 5 part-time, assess the needs of new users, assess and induct new volunteers, match them with users and monitor the progress of these relationships to ensure quality of delivery and support. Outcomes All users and the volunteers who support them are consulted regularly about the service they receive and about ideas for the future. In 2007, 95% of users were either very satisfied or satisfied with our services. They felt less isolated, more involved in the community and healthier both physically and mentally. This reduces demand for health and social services. Helping them to ensure that their homes and gardens are well cared for discourages crime and vandalism. In 2006 a survey of volunteers showed that 91% would recommend volunteering with us and that they were receiving appropriate support and training. The Helpline is the only organisation in our area providing such a wide range of services and having the ability to respond so flexibly to the needs of its users. Income and expenditure The Helpline's budget in 2008/9 is £233,040, 79% of which is the cost of staff, a full time director and administrator, 2 full time and 2 part time coordinators, 1 part time estate worker and a book keeper. With 350 users and 175 volunteers to support, this means that services to each user costs on average £8.46 per week. The terms on which staff are employed match comparable staff in local authorities. Services are provided free, but users do contribute to costs or donate as members of the Friends of the Helpline. 41% of the Helpline's recent funding has come from contracts with Southwark Health and Social Care - SHSC 43.5% comes from 3 year grants from Henry Smith and City Bridge Trust, due to end in March 2009, and from the Wates Foundation due to end in 2010. A grant from the Big Lottery ended in April 2008. Some donations from smaller trusts and local community fund raising contribute the remainder. A major donor in the past has been the Big Lottery, but a recent request for further funding was unsuccessful. We expect that the grant from Southwark Health and Social Care will be repeated in 09/10 it being the last year of a two year extension of a three year contract. Changes to SHSC’s commissioning structure means that we are unable at this point to forecast the level of support we can expect from them in 2010-11 and beyond. We are applying to several major trusts who have helped in the past or who are new to our work. Local fund raising, currently £25,000 p.a. will continue to grow as evidence of the support for the project in the local community. The deficit of some £39,000 we forecast for the year 2008/9 will be covered by drawing on reserves. The funds required in 2009-10 are £237,701 of which £106,904 is currently unsecured. We plan to continue to deliver services at this level for the following 2 years, and we budget for an inflationary increase of 2% on all costs. This would result in total expenditure of £242,455 in 2010/11, and £247,304 in 2011/12.