South London Cares gets £90k boost to tackle loneliness

Participants of the scheme Callum (left) and Tony (middle) pre-pandemic

A Brixton-based charity has received £90,000 boost to its scheme to tackle loneliness and isolation.

South London Cares said the funding from City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charity funder, will allow it to expand its Love Your Neighbour project in Lambeth and Southwark.

The scheme matches older people with younger neighbours. They usually meet up for weekly chats but the project is running as a telephone support scheme during the Covid pandemic.

The funding is also being used for social clubs via Zoom and, once Covid restrictions ease, will fund regular themed social get-togethers such as film, pub and craft clubs. It is expected to support around 2,000 younger and older people in South London.

Alex Smith, founder and chief executive of South London Cares, said during the first lockdown in March last year “a lot of our neighbours said for them the fear of being socially isolated was as great, if not greater, than the fear of actually catching the virus.”

“The activities we’re providing online, by phone and post-pandemic in person are all aimed at building a sense of community and tackling social isolation and loneliness – and the younger people get just as much benefit from it as their older neighbours,” he said.

Tony Wheeler, 74, who lives in Herne Hill, explained he was “in a bit of dire straits when I first linked up with the charity, I’ve sorted myself out now and things are looking up.”

He was paired up with Callum Struthers, 29, who said their relationship feels less like volunteering and more like “checking in with an old friend, catching up and looking out for each other.”

Wheeler added: “I’ve got a lot to be thankful for after connecting with South London Cares – they’ve helped me out a lot.”