THE DARLINGTON TOWN MISSION  

                                        Registered Charity No 235572  

REPORT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2014  

CONTENTS                                                               Page  

Key Achievements                                                                  3  

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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 1,075 visits to Friends relieving isolation, providing support and encouragement and helping them with practical tasks.   

  •We helped them with:  

oSupport and transport to Hospital, GP, opticians and chiropodists.  oShopping  

oArranging a move into residential care oTransport to funerals oSupport from Social services  oCollecting hearing aid batteries  

  

•Took 374 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  

with their friends, or out for lunch/ coffee   

•Continued our monthly services in two care homes.  The residents enjoy hymn singing, prayers and reflections  

•Took Friends to Communion services at Northlands Methodist Church  

  • Recruited 4 new volunteers  

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 two 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 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 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   

Darlington Town Mission

I am conscious that this report will not be as fulsome as it deserves. I have been in the chair only since 

September 2014; and the reason for being there at all is the retirement of the former chairman, Brian Holmes.  Due to ill health he felt he should give up his involvement with the Town Mission – much to his regret, because he gave so much to it in spirit and action.  The Mission is sincerely grateful to him for his years of service.  However, wisdom has prevailed in recognizing that health is a gift God gives to cherish as well as we can.  We wish him continued blessing on his ministry in All Saints – now with the prospect of a new incumbent: a new chapter.  

Stepping into the Darlington Town Mission pilot boat I discover I am alongside a small crew – small in number but large in dedication and effectiveness. The mission has been active for 176 years!  It follows that the means of running it are well tried and well oiled.  Every month I have met with the Management Committee – alas we are short of one of the crew – a secretary.  All the same, our chair person, Richard, has more than made up for the lack, and we are thankfully relieved and grateful to him that he has taken on being acting secretary meanwhile.  His energy and scope for probing and finding solutions for what action is needed is admirable.  He has learnt (from his beekeeping, perhaps!) how to enable a team to work together for the common good – himself being at the heart of the activity!  Similarly the Treasurer, Derek, is our reliable, dependable man at the rudder: his presence provides far more than merely keeping the books – his dedication to the Mission is evident by his involvement at every level, making sure that his eye for detail and occasional nudge to remind, or to catch a bit more wind for the sails, helps the boat to travel the current lap of the journey – which is well marked out by tradition for each season of the year. The Management Committee is well named: the day-to-day running of the Mission involves caring for our Friends – knowing each one, looking after individual needs, arranging for social events and outings, being at the end of a phone, so in easy contact at any time and for any cause.  Sue is ideally suited for the Missioner role, supported by her assistant, Suzanne.  We are indebted to Sue for her management skills, her eye which sees what’s required, her attention to her clients’ daily needs, her cheerful spirit, her lightness of touch, her humour.  We are well served by both, and we are sincerely grateful for all they do – in the call of duty and beyond.  

 

A second boat sails alongside the Management Committee: the Fund-raising Committee as its partner.  This boat is crewed by a band no less dedicated and experienced.  Again, though small in number, Anne and Brian, Mary and Pam have achieved remarkable results over the past twelve  months in making sure that the Treasurer does not have sleepless nights: and that the Mission objectives are met each step of the way.  As with every charity (especially one that does not rely on grant aid from outside sources) we look to God, and to people’s goodwill and generosity to keep on sailing.  The Fund-raising Committee members can be proud to have gathered around them a network of Mission support that can be counted on for its commitment to the charity.  At the same time efforts to find additional sources of income require constant attention.  It is only right that we remind ourselves – at least once in the year – what a great work this crew is doing for the Mission.  Thank you for your persistence, your imagination and ingenuity, your buoyant spirit and, most of all, your hard work – month in, month out!  

There is yet a third crew that requires mention: the Executive Committee – or, to give it its legal standing, the Trustees meeting.  Although it meets only four times each year yet it carries the greatest responsibility of all for the welfare of the Town Mission.  If the mother ship gets into difficulties, is marooned, caught in a storm, runs aground and the hull is holed – whatever – the Trustees are the body appointed to remedy the problem – call out the life boats, sort out a solution for the cause of the interruption to its voyage, and set it again on its prescribed course. Trustees are useful because, ideally, they are drawn from a wider perspective than most of the volunteers in the Mission.  They bring their experience, be it marketing, the law, or a caring profession etc. We are grateful to them for their interest, their expertise, their time given to Mission affairs, and especially their support for the essential purpose of the Mission here in Darlington. That said, we are currently lacking sufficient trustee membership: it’s something that we need to attend to without further delay.  

The week to week running of the Mission’s activities centres round our Friends, as the strap-line puts it, 

Enriching elderly lives.  Sue and Suzanne can’t possibly do everything; so Volunteers come to the fore and play an essential part: drivers and visitors in particular.  As catalogued in the Missioner’s report outings and social gatherings form a key element of enriching.  We are very grateful to all our 

Volunteers for their gifts – their time, caring and use of vehicles. Thank you!  As we enter a new year the Management Committee is increasingly aware of the need to bring in more volunteers in all capacities: a secretary (!), trustees, drivers and visitors.  We recognize that our core constituency for recruiting, Darlington churches, has only a low profile on the scale of our attention and energy output.  For a charity that is founded as a Christian response by the churches to townsfolks’ needs we are engaging only minimally with our family of churches.  We are in process of remedying this through producing a Town Mission leaflet which informs people what it is that we do, and also it offers an opportunity for anyone to take steps to enquire further towards volunteering.  Armed with such a tool we can then hope to visit churches and raise our profile amongst congregation members.   

Meanwhile we should invite as many churches as we can to our one annual public event, our 

Thanksgiving Service in April.  It’s then that the mother ship comes into port – acknowledging both our source of inspiration and strength as well as our goal: the homing and welcome – the very purpose of the journey.  To God we come with our thanks - and our dedication as we prepare to set sail out into yet another year. To Him be the glory!  

Andrew Wigram  [Chairman ]

January 2015  

Missioners Review of the last year  

This last year has seen our numbers remaining at our limits and with over 50% of our Friends 90 years old or over we are finding our Friends mobility is declining and the need for practical help has increased.Many of the Friends are struggling to go out on their own so we are providing a much needed lifeline.Over the last year we have accompanied many of our Friends to appointments at hospital, doctors, nurses, chiropodist,opticians, banks.We have made more hospital visits this year than the last and continued to help with shopping and going to the post office.In April Suzanne Nevison started as an Assistant Missioner which has enabled us to give more help and do more visits. All our outings have been well attended with between 25 to 30 attending, on a few occasions too well attended and we could not accommodate everyone however no one missed out as we split the group into two and went out on two separate days. It has been good to see how well the Friends interact with each other and look forward to meeting up at the next outing.  

We  also taken a small group of four to a fortnightly lunch club at Northland Methodist  

Church which also provides a half hour Service once a month before lunch. As three of the Friends are no longer able to get to Church on a Sunday they really appreciate the chance to share in worship.  

We have continued to make regular visits to the housebound and to those who are able to go out but are lonely, and for some our visit is the highlight of their week.Some of our Friends ring and have a chat on the telephone if they are feeling lonely.  

Sadly 13 of our Friends died in the last year but it is good to know that over the last year DTM helped to enrich their lives.  

Sue Case Missioner  

Friends Forum  

 Friends Forum which takes place fortnightly on a Wednesday at Park Place Community Centre. Thanks to the commitment of a regular volunteer helper and 4 regular volunteer drivers, the availability of the Community Centre each fortnight, Friends Forum has been able 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. We have sadly lost two Friends who attended this year but they have been replaced by two more Friends and it's so good to see how quickly they are welcomed and become one of the group   

 

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 often 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. These activities are followed by a cooked two course meal.    

Friends’ comments:  

“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.”  

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

“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  

"I don't know what I would do without the Town Mission I thank God for them in my prayers" Win D  

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.   

Volunteer  Perspective   

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  

HOW YOU COULD SUPPORT US  

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 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, or Mollie by spending a couple of hours a week visiting, please call Sue Case on 01325 734995 or ‘e’ mail dtmission@btconnect.com  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 www.localgiving.com/ darlingtontownmission or send a cheque to our address or ‘e’ mail us at dtmission@btconnect.com 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.  

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  

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

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

Students and Staff of Polam Hall School for hosting the 69th Sunshine party and in addition a Jack Frost party and for organizing a sponsored dance.  

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 .  

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.  

Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College for inviting us to their carol Service and lunch  

Yarm Road Ladies Group for inviting us to their Christmas Party