This week, we celebrate Friends of the Elderly (FotE) - a charity dedicated to allowing older people to live fulfilled lives and providing life-saving services for those in need.
We speak to their Group Fundraising Manager, Yvonne Martin about the charity and their excellent work.
OC: Hi Yvonne, thank you for helping us raise awareness of your brilliant charity, can you give us a bit more information about what FotE does and how you help older people?
Y: Certainly. Friends of the Elderly have been supporting and caring for older people since 1905, providing vital grants, befriending and care services in England and Wales. Our mission is to ensure that all older people have the opportunity to live fulfilled and respected lives. We are thrilled to have the support of the OutsideClinic to help us raise awareness of our cause. We are not a huge charity, but the work we do it vital and the grants we give out do change people's lives.
OC: What is your grant service?
Y: Our grants service provides financial help to older people living in poverty and needing help with everyday essentials. In the form of one-off grants and regular allowances, our grants are a lifeline of support for older people with no one else to turn to. Our grants typically help pay for replacing white goods, essential household repairs and disability adaptations, transport, heating bills, flooring and insulation, and sometimes funeral costs.
OC: That's amazing. How important is it to raise awareness of your grant service?
Y: Many older people who need our help don't know that we exist, we would love to reach those people. A shocking two million pensioners in the UK live in poverty. It has become challenging for many older people to continue living well because they can't afford the ever-rising costs of everyday essentials, like heating their homes, eating healthily and socialising.
OC: That is awful. What kinds of conditions are people living in who apply for your grants?
Y: In England, 3.5 million people over the age of 65 are forced to make difficult decisions, such as not replacing or repairing electrical goods or not seeing friends and family, because they can't afford it. Many of the people we support don't have the most basic household appliances and have very few places or people they can turn to for help. Many people who apply for our grant services have to face making difficult decisions every day, in some cases, having to decide whether to eat a warm meal or have the heating turned on because they can't afford both.
OC: It's so awful that people have to face these situations when your service is readily available to help them. How many people have you helped already?
Y: In 2020, we awarded 618 grants totalling £199,896 to improve the lives of some of the poorest and most vulnerable older people. Demand for the grants service is still high, at a similar level to last year. We receive two or three new applications every day from someone desperately needing our help.
OC: That's fantastic to hear that you have helped so many people already. Where does the money come from?
Y: The grants we distribute are funded entirely by donations. We have a matched giving partner, called the Edward Gosling Foundation, who have pledged to match every penny we raise for the grants service up to £100,000, so every £1 we raise will be worth £2.
OC: Your services are so wonderful; we will make sure we spread the word so that those in need can access this extra support. Which of our patients could you help?
Y: If your customers receive Pension Credit they can apply for a grant to help them with household essentials, including replacing a broken washing machine, fridge or cooker, household repairs and disability adaptations, transport costs, digital communication, funeral costs, heating bills and even debt repayments. They may be in desperate need of financial support but have nowhere to turn, but we are here to help.
OC: Thank you for your time, Yvonne, we are happy to raise awareness of the great work you do, and we hope to raise some funds for you.
If you would like more information about Friends of the Elderly or you would like to donate to their cause, visit their website here.