Councillor Dee Simson, the current Mayor of Brighton & Hove, attended the Neighbourhood Care Scheme’s 20th anniversary party last Sunday, 1 July. The event, held at the Sallis Benney Theatre, celebrated 20 years of the neighbour to neighbour support scheme which is provided by local charity, Brighton & Hove Impetus.
The mayor addressed more than 100 invited guests – past and present Neighbourhood Care Scheme (NCS) members and volunteers, key partners and Impetus staff and trustees – and spoke about the issue of loneliness and social isolation in the city.
70% of the people Brighton & Hove Impetus supports say that isolation is the most difficult aspect of their life. The charity’s NCS service tackles the issue head on by helping isolated older people and people with physical disabilities and their carers. Local volunteers are matched with a person in their community and spend around an hour each week providing company to them.
Dee Simson, the Mayor of Brighton & Hove says: “I was delighted to be invited to the 20th anniversary party of the NCS and to meet so many people whose lives have been improved and enriched as a result of the service. My focus as Mayor includes the role of the community and voluntary sector and the work of Impetus and the NCS is exemplary in the area of tackling social isolation. Brighton & Hove is a wonderful city with so much to offer, however continued efforts are needed to tackle loneliness and its effects.”
Brighton and Hove census data* reveals there are more than 35,000 people over 65 living in the city (13% of the population), 11,556 of whom are over the age of 80. A massive 41% of these older people are living alone, higher than the national average. Loneliness and isolation impact health and wellbeing and can have a devastating impact on people’s lives; linked with depression, disease and even increased risk of death.
One of the biggest befriending schemes in the country, the Neighbourhood Care Scheme trained and inspired 321 volunteers in 2017-18, to deliver more than 12,000 hours of support to 351 isolated people. Back in 1998-99, 23 volunteers provided support to just 22 people.
Sean de Podesta has been leading the team of staff and volunteers, making vital connections to reduce social isolation and improve wellbeing, since 1998. He says: “I am really fortunate to have been able to do the best job in Brighton & Hove for so long. The NCS has enabled over a thousand volunteers to form, often life-changing, relationships with their neighbours. The good news is that the rich well of neighbourly goodwill which we have harnessed the power of is far from exhausted. In just the last three months, we have matched a further 44 volunteers – a good start to the next twenty years!”
Jo Ivens, Impetus’s CEO, says: “We all had a great time celebrating the achievements of the Neighbourhood Care Scheme, thank you to all our guests and to the Mayor for attending. Our commitment to tackling social isolation continues, through the good work of the NCS and our other advocacy and social prescribing services. We are also working hard to share our learning to ensure that other localities can learn from our positive experience in Brighton & Hove.”
More details about the NCS, how to get support and how to volunteer, at: