THE DARLINGTON TOWN MISSION

              Registered Charity No 235572  
                                                                                         

    REPORT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2015  

CONTENTS                                                               Page 
Section 1
Key Achievements                                                         3  
What we do                                                                    3
Chairman’s message                                                     5
Missioner’s review of the year                                       6
Friends perspective                                                        7
Volunteer perspective                                                     7
How you could support us                                              8 
Relationships with other organisations                         9

                                
Our Vision  
Is to reduce isolation and provide companionship
        
Our beliefs  
That every person is entitled to a good quality of life through fellowship and social support which combats isolation
To achieve this we:
Carry our home visits    
Provide companionship to our Friends individually or through group social events  
Provide Acts of Worship  

Last year the Mission made: 

  • 1,138 visits to Friends relieving isolation, providing support and encouragement and helping them with practical tasks.
  • We helped our Friends with support and transport to Hospital, GP, Chiropodists, Bank   and shopping
  • Took 368 Friends 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 services at Northlands Methodist Church and to their lunch club 
  • Recruited 3 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, 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 Missioners who work 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.

What is loneliness and social isolation?

Loneliness is a subjective, negative feeling experienced where there is a discrepancy between the amount and quality of social contacts one has, and the amount and quality one would like to have. It is related to but distinct from social isolation which is an objective state the absence of social contacts and social connectedness. 

What are the intrinsic factors?

Lack of transport, not living near families, bereavement, becoming a carer, experiencing poor health or poor mobility, loss of sight or hearing, being childless, living on a low income are all factors which can cause a person to become lonely.
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. 
  • Compared to non-lonely people, people who experience chronic loneliness have an increased risk of developing dementia by 64% (source Campaign to end loneliness/University of Kent)
  • 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

2015 has been an encouraging year for the Town Mission.  
 

Volunteer - Despite our anxieties one year ago about lack of volunteer support, especially as trustees and drivers, the year has passed satisfactorily with a slight increase in volunteering – for which we are grateful.  It goes without saying (and yet it needs to be said!) that we are very grateful to all our volunteers for their commitment, service and encouragement.  Thank you!

Support for Friends - Sue, our Missioner, has had a busy year: not only has she continued to be alongside Friends, contacting regularly and helping to navigate all manner of immediate needs for them, but she has once again provided the regular outings to favourite places with the support of a team of drivers to enable them to visit a garden centre or the seaside; she has continued to offer the fortnightly Forum lunch social (with the help of Mary).  Sue is the one who acts as administrator for any action involving volunteers (drivers, visitors, office matters), she produces a newsletter at regular intervals, she is key to any changes made to the service provided to Friends – she is, effectively, the hub around which the Town Mission revolves.  Along with Suzanne, her assistant, things just get done with no bother (!): a great strength and assurance for the trustees and office holders who are responsible for the charity’s progress.  Just recently Sue has also taken on (temporarily) the job of secretary for the Trustees and Management – all in a day’s work!  Thank you, Sue! 
 

Finance -We are grateful that this past year has seen a number of initiatives followed through to widen our publicity and appeal to reach support beyond our traditional church base.  We have been rewarded by action taken, by individual trustees as well as committees, to appeal to potential donors as well as friends and associates.  Two recent notable successes have been a pre-Christmas charity drinks-dance in aid of the Town Mission, and a successful bid for funding from the Gannett Foundation to equip Friends with telephone filters to block unwanted callers.  Such events require a lot of preparation – therefore time and care expended.  It’s wonderful when this effort is rewarded!  Meanwhile the Fund Raising Committee has had a good year putting a lot of effort into an event each month - a tall order, yes; but how encouraging when at the end of the year they can see the gratifying results.

Worship  Though we meet together as the Town Mission family to worship only twice in the year, yet those occasions symbolize the heart of what we are and do.  In December the Carol Service is both a coming together to celebrate the Nativity and also a happy seasonal social event at which many Friends take part.  For that reason the gathering represents the whole family – Friends, volunteers and staff.  Our focus is to come before God – we are his family; so all we do and are we offer to him.  The annual Thanksgiving Service in April is specifically to acknowledge God’s goodness and grace which lie at the heart of our endeavour: it is the root from which the Town Mission first grew so many years back, and it continues to provide the unifying purpose for all of us who belong – it is our chosen response to God which we make by offering ourselves to work together to help tackle loneliness in Darlington’s elderly, and our vision is to reduce isolation and provide companionship.  How vital it is that we acknowledge this rootedness – it reminds us why we join together, and how we are to offer ourselves in this, his service. Andrew Wigram                                      

Missioner’s review of the year 2015 

The year was again very busy for DTM we had a full programme of outings, some old favourites, some not so well known and one new venue.  We went out every month and were not let down by the weather, we had some really sunny days. Watching all the Friends, who joined us on our outings, enjoy fellowship with each other shows that we are achieving our aim of providing opportunities for social contact. Many friendships have been formed and they look forward to meeting up each month to catch up on what they have been doing since the last outing. Those who are unable to join the outings have not missed out as we have continued to make regular visits to offer fellowship and companionship. We lost 16 Friends last year who passed away but we did what we could to help improve their quality of life.  The need for organisations like DTM has never been greater than it is now and despite losing 16 Friends we remain at our limit.
DTM’s monthly Service in North Park Care Home and Elderwood Care Home have continued throughout the year thanks to our small group of Worship leaders and are greatly appreciated by those who attend. 
Suzanne (Assistant Missioner) and I have continued to take 5 Friends to Northlands Church lunch club once a fortnight, where they are able to attend a short Service once a month.  Getting together on a regular basis really gives our Friends a lot of pleasure. We are grateful that last year we were again able to use Park Place Community Centre for our fortnightly Friends Forum and grateful to our volunteers who help with this. Friends Forum is attended by a small group of 10 Friends where we meet for lunch. We have seen good friendships made and they all enjoy catching up over a cup of tea and biscuits when they first arrive. We share memories, stories, poems, and sometimes enjoy a game or quiz before we have lunch all sitting together round one big table. We are always surprised as to how quickly the time passes and before we know it the volunteers are back to take our Friends home. We have again lost some of our Friends who attend but we have invited new friends to joins us and they are quickly made to feel part of our group.

Friends’ Forum 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  
“DTM give me so much help and I do appreciate the visits they are so uplifting” Joan
“DTM take us on such lovely outings during the year and it’s so nice to meet up with
 everyone” Doris
“Many thanks for all the pleasure you bring us” Phyllis
“I wanted to express my sincere thanks for all the pleasure my mother received by way of home visits, Friends’ Forum lunches and various outings. These interactions helped to sustain my mother’s enjoyment of life at a time when opportunities for social involvement can be rather rare”. Relative of a Friend 
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
Like so many of the volunteers that support DTM, I retired from work a few years ago and worried about what retirement might bring.  I shouldn’t have been bothered of course, because it wasn’t long before our amazing Missioner came asking me to become a driver.   More recently, I have also volunteered to become a Trustee and conduct the occasional act of worship in local care homes. 
 The thing that stands out from other voluntary work I do elsewhere is the joy of meeting Friends of DTM on our monthly outings.  I have met so many positive older people that seem to have very little to be joyful about, yet their humour and gratitude to the volunteers is heart warming.  Meeting such inspirational Friends is a true blessing. In February it was my privilege to take three ladies to Broom Mill Farm, West Auckland for the first of our 2016 group outings.  This was a new venue for the Mission and whilst it was quite small, we were made most welcome and the teacakes were great!  Seeing the nosey ducks sitting on the posts by the duck pond and the cows in the byre was fascinating.  Sadly, there weren’t enough volunteer drivers to take the amount of Friends wanting to join us on a lovely sunny day.  Consequently, our Missioner Sue had to pay a second visit to the farm the following day with a smaller group of Friends.  If we had more volunteer drivers, this unfortunate duplication would be avoided and more time could be devoted to home visits.  
If anyone reading this is wondering what their future holds, why not ‘trust in the God of miracles’ that gives us opportunities to volunteer for such a wonderful charity as the Darlington Town Mission?  It would be lovely to meet you.
    Brian Simpson

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 Brian, 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, Joan, Doris or Phyllis by spending a couple of hours a week visiting, please call our Missioner on 07943251357 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.     
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.  
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.  
Harrowgate Hill Methodist Church for hosting our Carol Service and tea and also a Happy January Party for our Friends.  
Polam Hall School for hosting the 70th Sunshine party and 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!  
Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College for inviting us to their carol service and lunch. 
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.