Staywell’s focus has always been on helping those older, more vulnerable people in our local community who need us most, including those who are experiencing loneliness and isolation.

As we grow older, there may be many factors which limit our social contact with others, whether through reduced mobility, health issues or bereavement. We know that Covid-19 has worsened people’s mental and physical health, so the demand for friendship, contact with the outside world, practical and emotional support, and reassurance is ever-increasing.

Staywell’s In Touch support services include one-to-one home visiting, telephone befriending and walking companions. They offer regular social contact and emotional support to older and lonely adults over the age of 65 years, providing friendship and a feeling of self-worth.

During the pandemic our volunteers were checking that people had enough food in, helping to get more delivered if necessary. They made sure people were taking and had access to any medication which they might need. If they identify any concerns about clients, the volunteers get in touch with the Staywell Team to arrange further help if needed, which could involve a phone call or a visit from, for example, our Community Team or our Handyperson service. We can connect those in need with the appropriate services, including GP primary care through our Community Connectors service. This gives peace of mind to clients and to busy and distant families and unpaid carers, who can be reassured that their loved one is receiving regular checks on their wellbeing.

We match clients closely with trained volunteers who share their interests, to ensure that both parties have fun and enjoyment, as well!

We’re now building on what we learned during the pandemic (which of course, is not yet over) and on our previous ‘Safe and Connected’ pilot project, to further develop and expand our In Touch services. We want to help more people connect with their community, whether that be through resuming activities that they used to enjoy, trying something new, or supporting them to regain confidence that has been lost due to the pandemic. We therefore need new volunteers, with experience of working with people, to join our team. Volunteers with experience of supporting people with their mental wellbeing are particularly needed.

‘Josie’ is 90 years old, she is blind and lived alone. She was originally referred to our Community Connectors Team by her GP, for help with arranging a podiatry appointment – she was in pain, but unable to get to the surgery due to Covid.  At the time both her son and daughter-in-law were unwell. It was apparent when our team got in touch that Josie was lonely and isolated, and also in need of practical support. We arranged for food shopping and medication to be delivered, and for a podiatrist to visit her at home – a referral was also made to In Touch, and in April 2020 Josie was matched with a befriender, who called her regularly over the next few months. She and her family were extremely grateful for this support.

In June 2020 Josie went into a nursing home for temporary respite. Once at home, she chatted to her befriender about the care she had received, how poor it had been and how badly she was treated. She was quite clearly upset about this. With Josie’s consent, the befriender passed this information back to Staywell who in turn raised the matter with Adult Social Care and the Safeguarding Team. Adult Social Care took up these issues with the nursing home. 

Our befriender continued to keep in touch with Josie by phone, occasionally dropping off groceries for her. Josie is now in a care home, and now that lockdown has eased her befriender is able to visit in person occasionally, and is also in contact with Josie’s daughter. 

Wanted: volunteers!

If you would like to learn more about the In Touch service, or if you are interested in becoming an In Touch volunteer, please call 020 8942 8256 or email: [email protected]. You’ll need to be a people-person, able to make a regular commitment, for a minimum of six-months, and attend induction training with Staywell.


We are grateful to the National Lottery fund for supporting our befriending and companionship services.