The Darlington Town Mission

C/o Evolution, Church Row, Darlington DL1 5QD 

(Founded in 1838, Registered Charity No 235572)



Annual Report

Year ended 31st December 2012




Registered Charity No 235572




Our purpose

To provide for the elderly:

  • A visiting/ befriending service
  • Opportunities for Social Contact
  • Acts of Worship

Our Vision

Is to prevent and provide relief from isolation in the elderly through our contact and support     

Our beliefs

  • That every person is entitled to a good quality of life
  • Communities encourage fellowship, social support and combat social isolation
  • Every person is valued and should be given the opportunities to socialise.



Last year dtm

  • Made 952 visits to Friends relieving isolation, providing support and encouragement and helping them with practical tasks.
  • We helped them with:
    • Support and transport to Hospital, GP and dental appointments

o  Shopping

o  Providing information on support services

  • Took 367 people on monthly group outings
  • Continued our very successful fortnightly Friends Forum which provides lunch, activities and social interaction.
  • Took Friends on small group outings, to meet up with other friends, or out for lunch/ coffee
  • Continued our monthly services in two care homes.  Attendance has been increasing. The residents enjoy hymn singing, prayers and reflections
  • Took Friends to a monthly Communion service at the Gardens Care Home



What we do.


The Darlington Town Mission was founded in 1838by three local businessmen, John Backhouse and John Pease, Quakers and John Hopkins, an Anglican. Its aims are as follows:

  • To relieve poverty, sickness, hardship and distress of those in need in the Borough of Darlington through the provision of practical and material assistance, advice, information and support and by any other charitable means that the Trustees in their discretion think fit, in order to improve the said beneficiaries’ quality of life.
  • To advance the Christian faith particularly but not exclusively by holding services of worship where appropriate.

These aims are achieved in the following ways:

The Mission employs a full time Missioner, who works with a number of volunteers to:

  • Visit people in their homes and in hospital to offer practical and material assistance, information and pastoral support.
  • Arrange day trips out and other social events
  • Through exemplifying Christian love and service in the work we do, as well as holding acts of Christian worship.

Our main activities and who we help are described below. All our charitable activities focus on improving quality of life and are undertaken to further our charitable purpose for the public benefit.

We are focusing our activities on preventing and relieving loneliness and isolation in the elderly in Darlington. A recent report by Age UK into loneliness found that:

Many older people have little contact with friends and family.

Twelve per cent of older people say they feel trapped in their own home.

Seventy five per cent of women aged 75 and over live alone and this is set to increase.

There is a steep rise in loneliness among the older old- those who are 80+. (Our Friends have an average age of 90 and almost all are over 80.)

Depression affects 1 in 5 older people living in the community and 2 in 5 living in care homes.

Loneliness and isolation have an effect on the health of older people. Their physical and mental health deteriorates and they are more likely to die prematurely,

Social relationships were ranked by most people as the key dimension of quality of life.

The Mission’s services provide a vital lifeline of companionship, Christian fellowship and practical help to many elderly people in Darlington.  They help to relieve loneliness by visiting people in their own homes and in care homes. They relieve isolation and loneliness by giving older people the chance to join with others in outings, social and other events and at our Friends Forum which provides lunch and activities. We also provide a spiritual dimension in providing access to Christian fellowship and ecumenical worship.



Chairman’s Report 2012

I was hungry and you gave me food;

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink;

I was a stranger and you took me in;

I was naked and you clothed me;

I was sick and you visited me;

I was in prison and you came to me. (Matthew, 25, 35-36)

Looking back over 2012 I get a feeling of business and much satisfaction. As a part of the team which run DTM there is always a great deal of planning and administrative things to occupy one’s mind – business can become an end in itself. The business of DTM is its people, our people, our friends and all our activity must tend to that aim - I believe we have managed that very well this year.

As I began this report my mind was drawn to the Biblical passage at the head of the page. In this passage Jesus is urging his followers to look to the needy in society. In Jesus’ day the needy were simply those with nothing and often they were ill due to their privations.

Today we have the Social Services network; we have a whole raft of charities looking after people in various ways; Age UK springs to mind. I was challenged a few months ago and asked what we offer that Age UK does not. My answer was that we are and always have been a mission to the people of Darlington a mission which is biblically based. We make no distinction, creed, age or sexual orientation – neither did Jesus.  

Our founders established DTM on Biblical principles and carried out the work in the manner of the Good Samaritan. There is a whole fund of stories of the work that was done in the early days of DTM, one of my personal favourites in when the mission employed no less than six missioners and could be seen delivering sacks of coal on their bicycles.

Times have surely changed and it would be wonderful if we and others like us could do our work so well that we were no longer needed – nothing is further from the truth. There will always be a need in society – the needs may change, nevertheless need will remain, Jesus foresaw this and told his disciples so.

We have reached a point in our work within the community, where we have had to reluctantly place a ceiling on the amount of people we can effectively visit etc. We will only be able to do more to meet increasing demand for our services if finance would allow us to appoint a further Missioner (even part time) to work under the supervision of our current Missioner Sue Case or if more volunteer visitors would come forward. Our motivation will always lie in the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We have ahead of us in 2013 a very exciting year, it is the 175th Anniversary Year of the founding of DTM, we have in our hands some very exciting celebratory events, and in our hearts and minds the awareness that we carry forward an exciting heritage.


Reverend Brian Holmes

Chairman DTM         


Review of the last year

This year has been another successful year in continuing our work of relieving isolation in older people.

Our missioner and volunteers continued to provide a vital lifeline of companionship, Christian fellowship and practical help to many older people in Darlington by visiting them in their own homes and also those in Care homes many who do not have any other visitors.

Our monthly outing programme included some extra events celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a Jubilee party at Longfield School and an indoor street party at Harrowgate Hill Methodist Church. Our outings included some long standing favourites such as the party at Polam Hall School now in its 67th year and Bondgate drive and tea, as well as some new destinations such as the Oriental Museum in Durham and the Gardens at Thornton Hall. In February our Friends were entertained by Zoe Birkbeck, singing songs from the Musicals.


Friends Forum

One of the things that we have been able to offer a small group of about 12 friends is the Friends Forum which takes place fortnightly on a Wednesday at Park Place Community Centre. Thanks to the commitment of a regular volunteer helper and 3 regular volunteer drivers, also the availability of the Community Centre on a regular basis free of charge has enabled Friends Forum to go from strength to strength. 

Friends Forum has been kept to a small group to enable every one to sit together round one big table, this encourages the friends to share fellowship as a group and many new friendships have been formed through this. As everyone arrives they are eager to see each other to catch up and are genuinely concerned if anyone is missing.

The volunteer drivers pick up our friends from their homes in time to get them to our venue by 11am, on arrival we have tea and biscuits and this gives the friends the opportunity to chat with each other and share any news they may have, often one of our friends will have a humorous tale to share with everyone. We will then have an activity such as a quiz, crosswords, a word search, dominoes. Friends are free to choose which activity they want to do and they usually do these in 2’s or 3’s. All the friends mix well together and no one is left out. Sometimes we will look at old photographs of Darlington which encourages the friends to reminisce and share stories of their past.

At 12 noon we have a cooked two course meal, in winter we will have things like casseroles, stews, sponge puddings and in summer quiches, jacket potatoes and cold desserts. Occasionally a friend will mention something they have never tried and would like to so they get a chance to sample something different. This is followed by tea/coffee and further chatter. The friends are then taken home at 1pm by the same volunteer driver who took them.

Friends’ comments:

“It is nice to be able to eat with someone else, instead of on your own all the time.”

“We are very grateful to the volunteer drivers, the Missioner and the volunteer helpers who make Friends Forum possible.”

“It is lovely to have company, to be able to see and chat to people.”

“We’ve made new friends and look forward to seeing them each fortnight to catch up with what they have been doing.”

“I’m really disappointed if I have to miss Friends Forum “

Friends Perspective.

“The Town Mission has been wonderful for me. It has allowed me to meet people I wouldn’t normally meet. They get me out of the house, which is very important when you live on your own and into company. It is lovely to be able to talk to other people; the outings get me out and about which become more difficult as you get older. I have nothing but praise for the Town Mission.”


Everybody is so caring and I enjoy the company so much. I have never felt as happy in company as I do now. I have enjoyed and felt at home with everyone. I do appreciate everything the Mission does for me.


I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for all the kindness and consideration that we all are shown, the very enjoyable outings, so well thought out and the kindness of the helpers who take us and look after us so well. We have the opportunity to meet new friends and the feeling of now we don’t suffer loneliness.


Thus we have been able to improve our Friends quality of life by combating loneliness and isolation, rebuilding social contact, providing physical exercise and giving practical assistance.

A volunteer’s perspective.


After my husband died, unexpectedly and prematurely five years ago while we were both still in our sixties, I needed something to occupy my time. When asked if I would be willing to become a Volunteer Driver for the Town Mission, an organisation I knew little about, I decided to give it a try.

As well as driving, I soon became involved with helping at the Friend's Forum which meets every other Wednesday morning. This is when a group of Friend's get together at a community centre and the Missioner does a tremendous job providing lunch and entertainment for everyone. The pleasure this gives me is indescribable; the ladies have become my friend's and we have such fun together. As one of them said to me "It is so good to come out and chat and laugh with people because I spend a lot of time on my own and often feel pain, but forget about it in the happy atmosphere of the Friend's Forum."

I also drive for the monthly outings whenever possible, and get great satisfaction from this, especially the tea and cakes which are always part of the trips!

If we are lucky enough to live to a ripe old age we will still want people to realise that deep down we are normal folk who, despite various disabilities, are happy to take part in interesting and thought-provoking discussions, mix with other people and basically to get as much pleasure out of life as we can, and so it is for the Friends. I like to think that I am able to contribute in a small way to their quality of life.

Age should not mean loneliness and isolation and it is extremely sad to think that there are people who have no family nearby and whose friends are themselves too old to be of any constructive help, which, hopefully is where the Town Mission tries hard to be of service, and I find it to be a very worth while organisation endeavouring to do a good job for vulnerable people.



Volunteering with the Mission

We could not provide the service we do without the input of our volunteers. They provide invaluable assistance across the board from visiting our Friends, to driving and accompanying them on outings, and also in participating in our monthly Services in care homes. We are so grateful to them for the time and effort they put in and we do our best to make sure their involvement is both fulfilling and rewarding.

If you would you like to join Mary, as part of our pool of volunteer drivers who take our Friends on monthly outings organized by our Missioner or if you would like to relieve the loneliness of elderly people like Mollie, Win and Vi by spending a couple of hours a week visiting, please call Sue Case on 01325 734995 or ‘e’ mail  for further information.

Relationships with other organisations.


The Missioner has been engaging with other groups working with older people, exchanging ideas and practices.

The Mission would like to thank the following organizations and individuals:

Rotary Club of Darlington for their Annual Service on Palm Sunday, followed by afternoon tea provided by the Ladies of the Inner Wheel

Sue Manners for hosting a visit to her gardens at Thornton Hall

Bondgate Methodist Church and Choir for their input into our Annual Service of Thanksgiving and for hosting a wonderful afternoon tea and service in May.

The Students and Staff of Polam Hall School for hosting the 67th Sunshine party and in addition a Jack Frost party and also for donating Easter Eggs to our Friends.

All Saints and Salutation Church for hosting our Carol Service.

The Sugar Craft Guild of Darlington for the decorated Christmas cakes they donate to the Mission. These beautifully decorated cakes are much appreciated by our Friends.

Cockerton Methodist Church for the Christmas goods donated.

The Lions Club of Darlington for donating plants at Christmas, for inviting our Friends to their Christmas Party and for taking Friends on an outing to Barnard Castle.

Park Place Community Centre for accommodating the Friends’ Forum.

Sainsbury’s for making us their Local Charity for 2012/13 and the Ravensdale bell ringers for raising money for us.

The Round Table for donating a wheelchair and power point projector.

The Society of Friends for hosting our meetings.

The United Reform Church for donating knitted shawls for our Friends.

Churches of various denominations for the support they give to the work of the Mission and other organisations and individuals who have supported us financially.