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 2013 (Our 175th year of service to the people of Darlington)

THE DARLINGTON TOWN MISSION Registered Charity No 235572


CONTENTS                                                                                                       Page

Key Achievements                                                                                              3 

What we do                                                                                                          4

Chairman’s message                                                                                           5

Review of the year                                                                                              6

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 the Mission

Made 994 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


Providing information on support services

Took 484 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 Communion services at Northlands Methodist Church

What we do.

THE CHARITY      The Darlington Town Mission was founded in 1838 by 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 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 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.

        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.

        Between 2012 and 2032 England’s population who are over 85 is set to rise by 106% (source the Kings Fund)

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 Message

If Jesus were writing a report of his ministry here on earth it would, I suspect, read like a roller coaster ride, plenty of good and exciting bits overcoming evil and illness contrasting with lots of dissention and conflict. Toward the end of his time Jesus’ mission seemed to be failing ending with pain and terror – that is until you read the epilogue here the mission leaps back into life with a vengeance.

Working for God in whatever field can be like this roller coaster of seeming ups and downs as we carry our cross in a world which increasingly does not wish to see any form of Christian work carried on. Christian work in the elevation of injustice, pain and suffering is nonetheless still required. Many of the larger charities and some newly formed ones would appear to be doing much of what Darlington Town Mission does, with one exception and that is the Christian ethos which undergirds all we do.

The holistic approach of Darlington Town Mission attempts to minister to the whole person body, mind and spirit if that is what is wanted. We still believe as did our founders that in not only preaching the Gospel but living it out in the world Jesus set an example for us all to follow in regard of how we conduct ourselves and in how we relate to others in society.

This last year (2013) saw us celebrating our 175th Anniversary, during which many events were held which gave thanks to God for his grace and many blessings which he has richly bestowed upon us over the past 175 years of our existence in service to the people of Darlington. The lasting effect of celebrations was the raising of our profile here in Darlington, this is a work which still needs ongoing attention. There are still all too many people who do not know of our work here in Darlington. It was also a good year financially this was due to a great deal of hard work by many people who give so much time and effort to the work of the mission, our executive, our volunteers and the exemplary work done by our Missioner Sue Case.

This year is in the planning stage, outings are being firmed up, and a full programme of fundraising events is firmly planned. It is always our intension to carry out the aims of our society. Your input is valuable, as is your support and prayers without which I feel we would be unable to meet the demands which we try to meet each and every day.

Reverend Brian Holmes Chairman DTM

Review of the last year

2013 saw us celebrating 175 years of mission to the people of Darlington which is a marvelous feat. With the celebrations came publicity which has helped to raise our profile and enable us to go from strength to strength. We had a memorable Thanksgiving Service attended by many dignitaries which ended with a reception and the cutting of an anniversary cake by Sue Snowdon , the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham . A celebration birthday party was organised for our Friends where they were ably entertained by the talents of our volunteers. The year ended with a celebratory dinner. Earlier in the year the Mission had arranged a competition for the catering students of Darlington College to design an anniversary cake and the winner and two runners up were awarded their certificates at the dinner. The cake with the winning design was cut by the Mayor of Darlington Charles Johnson, the High Sherriff Peter Bell and the winning student Olivia Dunn.

Again this year our monthly outing program included some extra events. Harrowgate Hill Methodist Church did another Street Party to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation, a friend of one of our Trustees opened her house for us for afternoon tea and a Ladies group from St Herbert’s Church invited us to their Christmas Party. Polam Hall School have added another annual party in December aptly named Jack Frost Party to their Summer Sunshine Party, now in its 68th year. Our annual trip to the seaside at Redcar saw us having a lemon top ice-cream on the sea front and this brought back lots of memories and formed a good talking point. Our trip to Shildon Railway Museum also brought back memories for our Friends, some telling us of relatives who had worked there. The fellowship shared during the varied program of outings and events that the Mission provides has led to our Friends forming many friendships with other Friends. For people who find it difficult to get out and to have social interaction with other people these outings are vital to their wellbeing and as the rising numbers attending attest, are enjoyed by all.

For those Friends who cannot come out on outings we provide a valuable link to the outside world with our regular visits. Knowing we are coming regularly means they have something to look forward to and someone to talk to which is so important when you live alone. We are also able to give them lots of practical help such as taking them shopping and taking them to and from medical appointments. It is not just the transportation, it is having someone with them which helps to ease their stress. We do our best to try and ease our Friends worries and concerns.

Sue Case Missioner

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, has enabled Friends Forum to go from strength to strength.

Friends Forum has been kept to a small group to enable everyone 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 Perspectives.

“It is easy when you are on your own to stay in and not go out but the Mission taking me out gives me the motivation to go out and mix with others. I really appreciate all the Mission does for me. They make such a difference to my life.” Pat

“I really enjoyed your visit this afternoon you are a real ray of sunshine.” Gladys

“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.” Mollie

“What a kindness Mary has just been with the ioniser, it means so much that you help so.” Win (who suffers from asthma)

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.

Volunteers Perspectives.

I have been a volunteer driver for a number of years. Whilst on our outings our Friends always seem cheerful, enjoying their trip out with us. I enjoy listening to their memories as they chat away to each other during the journey. They seem to accept their health limitations and given the opportunities to get out which the Mission provides are determined to enjoy themselves. I was interested to note that on taking four Friends out that adding up the ages of us all the total amounted to four hundred and twenty years! It continues to be a great pleasure to drive the Friends to the various events and it always is a wonderful example of the dignity of the elderly and their capability given the chance to have fun. John

I 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 worthwhile organisation endeavouring to do a good job for vulnerable people. Mary

We need your support;

Volunteering opportunities

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 John and Mary, as part of our pool of volunteer drivers who take our Friends on monthly outings organised by our Missioner or if you would like to relieve the loneliness of elderly people like Pat, Gladys, Mollie or Winifred by spending a couple of hours a week visiting, please call Sue Case on 01325 734995 or ‘e’ mail for further information. With your help we could enrich many more elderly people’s lives.

Financial support.

To continue and expand our services we rely on the generosity of individuals, churches and groups .If you wish to donate you can do so on line at or send a cheque to our address or ‘e’ mail us at for details of other means of giving.

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 organisations and individuals:

Bondgate Methodist Church for hosting a wonderful afternoon tea and service.

Cockerton Methodist Church for the Christmas goods donated.

Darlington Carnival Committee for making us their Charity for the 2013 Carnival. .

Park Place Community Centre for accommodating the Friends’ Forum

Rotary Club of Darlington for their Annual Service on Palm Sunday, followed by afternoon tea provided by the Ladies of the Inner Wheel Sainsbury’s staff for making us their Local Charity for 2012/13 and raising £1,270 for us.

The Society of Friends and Latimer Hinks Solicitors for hosting our meetings.

St. Anne’s Church for hosting our Carol Service and tea.

St. Cuthbert's Church and Choir for their input into our Annual Service of Thanksgiving and hosting our celebratory tea afterwards and the staff at Sainsburys for their help at the celebratory tea.

Students and Staff of Polam Hall School for hosting the 68th Sunshine party and in addition a Jack Frost party.

The Missions link with Polam Hall School is long standing and to our mutual benefit. Twice a year the 6th form at the school are tasked with organizing and implementing entertainment, tea and a gift for the Mission’s Friends. We are told they are anxious and not a little nervous about each of these events but that it provides them with an excellent opportunity to plan and work as teams so that the party runs seamlessly. Such skills are extremely relevant in today’s society and the outcome fills each student with a real feeling of job well done. They talk endlessly about their guests and how much they enjoyed hosting them, you could say that each one feels a genuine satisfaction and a rosy glow, knowing that their efforts have been appreciated by their guests

Both the above events are very popular with and much appreciated by our Friends not only for the fun and entertainment they provide but also for the chance Friends have to talk to the Students when they sit down to tea together. A real intergenerational event!

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.

The Lions Club of Darlington for donating plants at Christmas. They cheer up our Friends winter months. Also for inviting our Friends to their Christmas Party .

The catering students of Darlington College who entered our Cake Competition, the staff who made it happen and also the staff and students who provided and served the meal at our celebratory dinner

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.