The Darlington Town Mission

Annual Report

Year ended 31st December 2016



C/o 2 Davison Road, Darlington DL1 3DR      

(Founded in 1838, Registered Charity No 235572)



                                        Registered Charity No 235572  


CONTENTS                                                                        Page 

Section 1

Key Achievements                                                                3  

What we do                                                                           3

Chairman’s message                                                            5

Missioner’s review of the year                                               7

Friends reflections                                                                 8

Volunteer perspective                                                            9

How you could support us                                                     9 

Relationships with other organisations                               10


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 1,193 visits to Friends relieving isolation, providing support and encouragement and helping them with practical tasks
  • Took 343 Friends on monthly group outings
  • Helped our Friends with support and transport to Hospital, Dentist, Chiropodists, Funerals and shopping
  • Installed call blocking phones for some Friends
  • 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 2 new volunteers 


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    What we do.


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 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 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

2016 for the Town Mission has been an encouraging year.  It is a happy coincidence that this year we combine this annual meeting with our annual Thanksgiving service, and much to thank God for. 


No charity prospers without the benefit of a body of volunteers.  The Town Mission is blessed with the gratifying support of a good number of able, experienced and dedicated volunteers who have carried our mission forward over the years; and never more so than this past year.  At the heart of all we do is the service the Mission offers to our Friends; and here we depend on volunteers who drive and others who visit.  Without their willing offering we would be a sailing ship with no wind – but thankfully we have had the wind to meet our social events as well as our carol service.  Thank you, all who have joined hands to enable our Friends to gather, and others of you who have befriended Friends at home. 


Without mentioning names I express our appreciation for the trustees who shoulder responsibility for the direction and smooth running of our mission, in particular the office-bearers with the responsibilities they carry through the Management committee month by month. Fund-raising is always an essential power-source to enable our vision to be on target and aims met; so 2016 has been gratifying for the income we have achieved providing us with a reassuring plus balance.  


2016 has been notable for the baton change from one Missioner to another.  Sue Case retired in June after a memorable stint of effective service.  Her experience and many gifts were much appreciated as she operated both in a pastoral and administrative capacity.  On her retirement the Mission could well have said goodbye altogether; but we have been relieved and delighted that she has exchanged her posting for volunteering – she acts now as secretary to the Executive and Management meetings, not to mention a variety of other tasks she willingly takes on.  

Meanwhile a new Missioner was appointed, beginning in June, Kirsten Bertram. She was introduced to town Mission members at the summer barbecue at All Saints’. She was shepherded into her new work under Sue’s guidance and soon she was getting round the Friends, not far short of 80 in all.  She has enjoyed her contact with them; she has organized outings and Friends Forum with help from Mary Drury, she has maintained the pattern of worship in two care homes, and she has enrolled on training sessions as required.  We have been glad to welcome one with no previous link to the Town Mission, yet now embracing the vision.

Special mention                                                                                                                                                   

I want to end this report paying tribute to a few of our shakers and movers who bear particular responsibility for the Mission’s wellbeing.   

For two years now the Mission has benefitted from an enterprising pre-Christmas ‘glam party’ organized from right outside our normal Mission channels, drawing on a circle of well-wishers who are contacted via a marketing circuit rather than a church.  These events have been highly successful – enjoyed much and reaping no mean reward for the Mission purse.  Special thanks go to Julia Bean for this enterprise and her considerable efforts to achieve such success.   

Again I want to pay tribute to a succession of fund-raising events through the year spearheaded by the very small, but motivated and loyal, Fund-raising Committee.  On the few occasions I have managed to attend their planning meetings I have been impressed at the attention to detail given to organizing an event, the freshness the committee brings to one event after another, many of which are repeated year after year; and especially the dedication to the Mission’s vision and success they so evidently bring.  It’s a joy to catch a splash of their enthusiasm.

Finally, an accolade needs to go to my fellow Management committee members.     

Brian Simpson who is a recent Vice Chair, has embraced his role with commendable commitment.  He brings a wealth of experience in managing; and holding the positions he does in his church fellowship he is confident as an ambassador for us, he has valuable connections in the Darlington Churches Together, and he is not backward in coming forward to tackle tasks required. We are the richer for his presence. 

Sue Case is secretary but a lot else besides; again she has much experience which is invaluable; she has a rock-like stability drawn both from her working career and her years spent as Missioner.  We are blessed to have her, and by her. 

And, last but not least there’s Derek, without a doubt the king-pin of the Mission, not only holding the purse and all things financial, but through his many years of DTM service he is, alongside other old stagers, the memory bank, the action-jogger, the constant companion, the flag holder – so many descriptions can be attached to Derek; where would we be without him! 

Andrew Wigram   


Missioner’s review of the year 2016

The year was again very busy for DTM we had a full programme of outings, and we enjoyed being out together.  We were fortunate with the weather so were able to go to all the outings as planned. 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. Those who could not come on an outing, were also offered the chance to join with a few others on a small outing, to a café, for a chance to chat and meet other DTM Friends. Sue Case and I continued to take a number of five Friends to Northlands Church lunch club once a fortnight, where they are able to attend a short Service once a month. 

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, including Father Paul Baker and are greatly appreciated by those who attend. 

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 between 8-10 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 attending have said; “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.”  

 We lost five Friends last year who passed away but whilst with us we did what we could to improve their quality of life.  The need for organisations like DTM has never been greater than it is now and despite losing 5 Friends we remained at our limit.

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Friends’ reflections. 

In the summer of 1963, Fred & I moved into Darlington .We had had such a bad winter and Fred was pleased to get a job, where he wasn’t getting up at 4 am and although he loved being a postman he didn’t have to face all the snow up Teesdale, delivering the mail. The first thing we did was to find a church in town. As we lived in Hazel Avenue, we chose Cockerton Methodist Church. This was where we heard about Darlington Town Mission. Lots of people, at first, think it’s a church, we did as we had two Missions in Barnard Castle. Before long we found ourselves on the committee of DTM, then a while later, Fred was asked to be Chairman ,he did that job for 5 years, Life was good, we were out taking the older people on various trips , getting to know them and helping where we could. The years went by too quickly, we were the old people now...

In 2009 Fred died, the thing I found hardest was the loneliness. My family who live in Gosforth, are extremely good, coming to see me every Sunday. I am now disabled having had so many falls, fractures etc. I can’t go out on my own anymore. One Saturday I was asked by DTM, if I would like to go to the Hymn Singing at the Church, the proceeds were for the Town Mission. I chose a hymn which meant a lot to Fred & I, how daft can one get? I just went to bits, tried not to let anyone see, but my friend Sue Allison had noticed & during the interval, Sue brought the Town Missioner over to see me and the best thing happened I was now being cared for by this wonderful organization. Since then I have made lots of new friends.I also attend Friends Forum, which I really enjoy. I go out on the many trips, which is great. DTM is also full of surprises. A lady came one day to pick me up. I suddenly remembered who she was. I told Hilda I remembered her as a child, I was taught in Sunday School by her mother Mrs Sylvia Stout more than 80 years ago in Barnard Castle.It was lovely to talk about "Old Times" remembering her mum who was a wonderful lady. My connection with DTM has gone full circle. I am now reaping the benefits of all those years ago. 


What do I think of DTM?  In a word "Fantastic "What do I think of the work it achieves? "Wonderful" What do I think of the Missioners and volunteers? Dedicated. DTM has been in existence since 1838. I wish it every success for the future, it is a great organization which I pray will go on for many more years to come.  Marion


“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

 “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

I have been volunteering for DTM for 8 months now but I am not new to the organisation because prior to volunteering i was employed by DTM for 5 years but retired at the end of June. So you might be asking why volunteer after retiring, well having worked for DTM I have learnt many things but one of the main things is how valuable volunteers are to an organisation and the people they help. At DTM I have learnt that every person counts and you can make an enormous difference even by doing the simplest of things, things we take for granted like going out, going to the shops, having visitors. These are a luxury for those who are lonely and isolated. As a volunteer for DTM I have had the pleasure of seeing the joy we have given to our Friends by helping them to be a part of the community and not just a lone figure sitting at home. The rewards for volunteering for DTM work both ways not only do we see the benefits of helping our Friends but we are gaining too .I have learnt new skills, met people I would never had met and it has made me appreciate what I have.

Sue Case

How you could support us;  

  1. 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 Sue, 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 Marion, Pat, or Doris by spending a couple of hours a week visiting, please call our Missioner on 07943251357 or ‘e’ mail  for further information. With your help we could enrich many more elderly people’s lives.  

b) 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 darlingtontownmission or send a cheque to our address or ‘e’ mail us at for details of other means of giving. 

If you interested in helping with our fundraising you can join our fundraising team, please contact us for more details or if you wish to do a sponsored fundraising event for us you can open a fundraising page on our local giving website. 


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:  

Barclaycard for giving boxes of biscuits to our Friends at Christmas and for their fundraising on our behalf.

Barclays Bank for match funding one of our events

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.  

Harrowgate Hill Methodist Church who hosted a January cheer up party which provided a chance for our Friends to catch up with each other after Christmas and where they were entertained by a choir from the Disclosure and Barring service.  

Haughton Methodist Church for hosting the Mission’s Carol Service and providing tea afterwards.

Northlands Methodist Church for the provision of their lunch club and services

Park Place Community Centre for accommodating the Friends’ Forum.  

Polam Hall School for hosting the 71st 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 party to celebrate the Queen’s birthday where there was tea and entertainment and to their Christmas lunch where there were songs and activities. 

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

 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 Co-op locally for choosing us as one of their community charities and for donating food items for our events.

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


The Society of Friends, All Saints Church and Latimer Hinks Solicitors for hosting our meetings.