Contents                                    Page


Achievements and Appreciation for 2018                  3

What we do?                                  3

What are loneliness and social isolation?                          4

Chairman’s message                              5

Vice -chairs letter                                  6

Missioner’s review of the year                          7

Friends’ reflections                                  8

Volunteer perspective                              9

How you could support us                            10

Relationships with other organisations                    11

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 out home visits
  • Provide companionship to our Friends individually or through a busy programme of group social events supported by a wonderful team of volunteer drivers
  • Provide Acts of Worship
  • Provide a fortnightly lunch club for a small group of Friends

Achievements and Appreciation for 2018


Last year the Mission:

  • Made 1,197 visits to Friends relieving isolation, providing support and encouragement and helping them with practical tasks
  • Took 407 Friends on monthly group outings
  • Helped our Friends with support and transport for medical appointments and practical help where resources allowed.  We keep in telephone contact with many of our Friends including making telephone calls for one Friend who is profoundly deaf to help out.  We also lend out a small amount of mobility equipment that we have been given as donations if we can.  
  • Continued our very successful fortnightly Friends Forum which provides lunch, activities and social interaction
  • Took Friends on small group outings and individual Friends to meet with their friends, or enjoy an occasional lunch or coffee with them.  
  • Continued our monthly services in two care homes.  The residents enjoy hymn singing, prayers and reflections.  Took Friends to services at Northland Methodist Community Space and to their fortnightly lunch club there
  •   Recruited three excellent new volunteers 


    What we do


The Darlington Town Mission was founded in 1838 by three local businessmen - John Backhouse and John Pease who were well known 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


  • 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 arranging acts of Christian worship.  


  • We are now focusing our activities on relieving loneliness and isolation in the elderly in Darlington.  


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.  



What are 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 and living on a low income are all factors which can cause a person to become lonely.  

  • There are 1.  2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK (Age UK 2016 report)
  • Half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all.  (Age UK 2016 report)
  • Two fifths of older people say the television is their main company (Age UK report 2014)
  • Over half of all people aged 75 and over live alone (Office for National Statistics)
  • There are 2.  2 million people aged 75 and over living alone in Great Britain, an increase of almost a quarter over the past 20 years (ONS)
  • Compared to non-lonely people, people who experience chronic loneliness have an increased risk of developing dementia by 64% (Campaign to end loneliness pub.  University of Kent)
  • Social relationships were ranked by most people as the key dimension of quality of life (Good Neighbours, Measuring Quality of Life in Older Age.  Bowling A.  2011)


Our charity provides a vital lifeline of companionship, Christian fellowship and practical help to many elderly people in Darlington.  We help to relieve loneliness by visiting people in their own homes and in care homes.  We 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.  


The charity also provides a spiritual dimension in providing access to Christian fellowship and ecumenical worship.  For those Friends who are Christian we aim to nurture them in their faith, and for those of other faiths or none to support them equally in our caring.  

Chairman’s Report

As we prepare for our AGM this year once again we have much to be thankful for.  Our target - to give support to the very elderly - is one that means we can focus through our tried and tested programmes what we offer in friendship and social opportunities; and particularly through one-to-one contacts spearheaded by our Missioner.  This has created a family of carers and cared for – a community whose members share in common a desire to be alongside our Friends at the stage in life when so much is being lost and there is so little in return to replace what’s lost.  Companionship that is warm, thoughtful and appropriate is one thing that does serve to replace these gaps.  


 As I write this I note that Sue Allison has just completed her first full year as part-time Missioner (although her enthusiasm and attention to the needs of those she serves has all the marks of full-time devotion!).  The energy she puts into her caring and the detail she is willing to expend in following up what needs action make us realise that she is truly enjoying the job, and that such caring is so evidently the drive within her nature.  We are most grateful to have had a part in opening the door for her to join us.  


This is my moment to say a big thank you to all volunteers who make up the Town Mission.  The great blessing of any charity is that those who join do so out of love (the meaning of the word ‘amateur’).  This is true of all our volunteers, whether as office-holders, or serving on a committee, or driving or ones who visit Friends.   We give what we feel we can – in time, interest and attention – and together it creates the witness the Town Mission offers to the wider community around.  We are never going to lack relevance: for who does not have family members growing older and entering through the gateway where they are only too glad to find hands held out to grasp and accompany along this final stretch of life’s journey?


A volunteer joining for the first time may be in a position to bring interest and contacts that can add to the life and enjoyment of our Friends.  It sounds strange to relate – but we have such a contact this year that has introduced Friends, women as well as men, to watching Darlington football club!  Friends have been welcomed, offered tea, and then seated in a VIP enclosure to watch the match.  We see a special relationship developing between the club and Town Mission, especially on account of ours being a very local charity – even sharing the name Darlington!


 A further extension of benefit to us has come about in the last two years through efforts to promote our charity as appropriate for members of the public to support, and also for large companies to consider for grant-aiding.  In this way we have received substantial support from Darlington Co-op – for which we are very grateful, not only for the financial benefit, but also for the means of widening our appeal through shoppers who are loyal to Co-op shopping – enough to become card holders.  Once again we see merit in creating and maintaining good working relationships with our local stores.  This includes Sainsbury’s where our annual carol singing accompanies DTM collecting from shoppers coming in and out, and with Greggs the Bakers who have given us a grant to fund outings for our Friends.  Our Fund Raising Committee is seeing such advantage even in smaller ways, like charity boxes.  Every little counts!  Keeping good relations with store staff is one positive gain.  


In your name let me once more say a big thank you to the Fund Raising committee for their ongoing and steady commitment to create ways to gather financial support from people of good will.  Thank you, too, for trustee-encouraged one-off efforts that have successfully borne fruit – for the commitment, initiative, persuasion, and planning.  


Let me finish with an appeal for you or your friends/contacts to think about.  The Mission would love to take up more opportunities than at present is possible to visit Friends who are housebound.  The purpose isn’t to be a professional carer/visitor – someone trained and experienced in dealing with elderly people in the last stages of their lives.  No, we are looking for anyone who enjoys meeting another for friendly chat – listening to their side of living, especially stories from former years; and also being happy to share something of what your own life means.  


We need more friends for Friends!  If that sounds like you please be in touch with Sue, our Missioner.  She will be more than delighted to encourage you.  


Thank you.  

Andrew Wigram





A Letter from Brian Simpson (Vice Chair)


Background to the Charity

 The Darlington Town Mission is a registered charity which was formed in 1838 to help those in need within the Borough of Darlington.  The Mission is an ecumenical Christian body seeking to help those living in social isolation.  The Mission focusses its care on the over 80s of any faith or none.  The Mission provides a service to approximately eighty people that we call our ‘Friends’.  This amount is the current maximum we can accommodate because of volunteer capacity.  Our Missioner is our only employee working for this small local charity.  We aim to visit Friends in their own homes or care homes to provide regular companionship and Christian fellowship and offer support and some practical help where possible.  


In 2018 our valiant team of heroes from the Fund Raising Committee gave wonderful support for the work and witness of the charity.  We couldn’t continue without their help.  In 2017 we were successful in obtaining grants from the Co-op Foundation and the Greggs Foundation to provide funds towards more group visits. With these generous grants and support from many other sources we were able to organise more adventurous outings for 2018 such as theatre visits to watch ‘Summer Holiday’ and ‘Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang’ and a cream tea at Rockcliffe Hall Hotel.  


We have a full programme of outings already earmarked for 2019 including visits to garden centres, another Hippodrome show (Top Hat), a day at the seaside, entertainment by Polam Hall and QE 6th Form students in Darlington and a visit to Shildon Railway Museum.  


This year we arranged a review day which gave us food for thought for the future.  This challenged us to consider a fresh approach to marketing, our publicity materials and provision.  It also gave volunteers the chance to give their vision of more ways where the charity could improve.  The management team and Trustees are currently exploring the ideas that came out of our Away Day review.  


More Volunteers are Needed!

To continue being effective we are arranging a busy program of group outings and events in 2019, including a fortnightly lunch club, monthly acts of worship in two local care homes and home visiting, but we need more help.  We would love to extend our services or the number of Friends we care for, but we need more volunteer drivers, home visitors and fund raisers.  Please help if you can.



Missioner’s Review of the year 2018

 As I write I’ve now completed my first year as Missioner and I feel both privileged and blessed to spend time with our lovely Friends and continue the wonderful work of all those Missioners who have gone before me over the last 181 years.  Many of the needs of those we serve remain the same, that of the need for companionship, friendship, social contact, encouragement and care.  At times when reduced independence and changes to life circumstance mean more time spent alone at home, Darlington Town Mission provides hope, purpose and valued company.  


Once again we were able to have monthly outings for those able to take part and they are very much enjoyed.  Due to the Co-op and Greggs generous grants in 2017 to our charity we have been able to have extra outings and spend more on outings such as Wynyard Gardens, theatre trips and used minibuses for the Marske/Redcar outing. We have again been blessed with wonderful weather on all outings - God is good!


We have issued a list for outings for 2019 to our Friends and volunteers and very much look forward to exciting months ahead.  


Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, Polam School, All Saints Church, Rotary and The Lions charity continue to provide great support to our charity and our Friends through parties, services and of course teas!


We continue to offer companionship to those not able to join us on outings and visits are much appreciated and are often times of great fellowship together.  DTM provides such a valuable contact and support through visits, where real friendships are formed and built upon.  


Visits are made at home, in residential or nursing care homes or hospital for example.  The smiles that greet me as I visit are wonderful and although some friends struggle with poor memory, the value of being visited and conversation together can never be underestimated.  


We are a faith based charity and God is at the centre of all we do.  Offering worship is very important to us and we continue to deliver monthly services at Elderwood and North Park care homes.  We are very thankful to those who lead and help with these services which are real times of blessing where the residents and staff much appreciate them.  


We also continue to take DTM Friends to Northland Community Hosting Space for an act of worship once a month and lunch fortnightly.  Friends’ Forum meets at Park Place once a fortnight which provides lunch and friendship to those who need this, and again it is much enjoyed.  It’s been so lovely to see how all have supported each other in what has been a difficult few months for the group in terms of losing a Friend and others being unwell, but also it’s great to see Friends share joys too.  It’s lovely to hear life memories and stories as we chat. As always, if Friends need a visit or chat please contact me.  


Thank you so much to all our wonderful volunteers who make all we do possible! I so appreciate you as do our Friends. 

Finally I want to say a big thank you to all volunteers and Friends for making me feel so welcome and encouraged, but special thanks to Sue Case for everything she has and continues to do to support me! 


Sue Allison



Friends and Relatives Reflections for 2018

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.  These messages of appreciation have been sent in for this annual report booklet.  We thank all those that contributed to this section.


“How do we even begin to put into words what Darlington Town Mission means to us as a family?  Over the last few years this wonderful group of people significantly enriched the life of our mam and grandma Margaret. 


 The Town Mission not only provided a way to reconnect with so many people that both Margaret and her late husband Albert knew over the years, but also gave an opportunity to build strong new friendships as well.


From being picked up to go to the regular lunch and service at Northland; pushing her wheelchair around Mainsgill or to one of the other garden centres, to enjoying a chat with pupils from Polam or the Sixth Form, these were all opportunities made possible by being taken under the wing of Darlington Town Mission. 


Of course, these were not the only outings Margaret was able to enjoy.  There were also trips to the theatre, Durham, Wynyard Hall, Raby Castle and even a mystery tour followed by a lovely tea, to name but a few other adventures made accessible.  Equally, these are by no means an exhaustive list of the many experiences enjoyed as a result of the willingness, kindness and comprehensive organisation of the Darlington Town Mission team, including their friendly volunteers.  All occasions were looked forward to by Margaret as she knew they would have a fun-filled, uplifting time and we as a family were so grateful because we knew she was in safe hands and would be well looked after.


Margaret’s grandchildren were quite amused that in keeping up with modern technology, the Darlington Town Mission had a Facebook page and made their grandma ‘Facebook famous’ by uploading photographs of the various outings she enjoyed.


Darlington Town Mission offered an opportunity for friendship, fellowship, interaction with others and support from which Margaret benefitted greatly.  For this lifeline we cannot thank them enough, and pray that it will continue to offer such opportunities to the many people who would otherwise be sitting at home alone”.            

                            Margaret’s Daughter


“My mother, Win, appreciated so much the work your Mission does and the regular visits you made, the lunch club and other events you held which she loved attending and gained so much pleasure from.  You have all been so caring and the whole family thank you for this care and friendship you have given Mum over the years”

                Win’s Daughter



“When I was first invited to join the Town Mission I felt a bit apprehensive, but I needn’t have worried for everyone was very friendly and made me so welcome.  Now I really look forward to meeting new friends and enjoy all the outings, meetings and activities that take place every month organised by Sue, our lovely Missioner” 



“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 that the Mission does for me.  They make such a difference to my life”.





A Volunteer’s Perspective for 2018

“Becoming a volunteer driver for Darlington Town Mission not only allows me to give something back to the community but also gives me great satisfaction in knowing that I am making a difference to someone's life.  It is so rewarding to see everyone enjoying their outings and having the opportunity to engage in conversation, often reminiscing, with their peers.  It also gives me enjoyment as I have also met new people, visited new places and as one of the volunteers know that my input is very much appreciated”.

        Vanessa F  





a)    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, driving and accompanying them on outings, and in participating in our monthly care home acts of worship.  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 Vanessa F, 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 Sylvia and Pat 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.  We would love to hear from you.



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.


You can even raise funds for us by shopping online using the amazing website that supports charities like ours.  It costs you nothing at all, simply go to and:


  1. Sign up choosing Darlington Town Mission as your chosen charity
  2. Choose from over 4,200 stores to shop with
  3. Click through to the store from  their site & shop as usual 
  4. They donate a % of your spending to us - for free!



If you interested in helping with our fundraising you can join our Fundraising Team.  They are currently seeking extra people with fund raising knowledge to help out.  


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 as above.  








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     


Haughton Methodist Church for hosting the Mission’s Annual Service and Carol Service and for helping with the refreshments afterwards


Northland Community Hosting Space for inviting some of our Friends to share in their fortnightly lunch club and monthly acts of worship beforehand


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


Clifton Court Surgery for raising funds all year by making second hand books available to buy in their waiting room


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 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 at Elm Ridge Methodist Church


Business and Social Clubs - We receive support from many other businesses and clubs including Capita, Darlington Football Club, Co-op and Sainsbury’s 


Park Place Community Centre for accommodating the Friends’ Forum and other events 


Polam Hall School that hosted the 73rd Sunshine party and Jack Frost party.  The Mission’s link with Polam Hall School is long standing and to our mutual benefit.  Twice a year the school’s older students arrange entertainment, an afternoon tea and gifts for the Mission’s Friends.  The young people seem to enjoy meeting our Friends and volunteers.  These occasions offer the young people an excellent opportunity to plan and work as teams so that the parties run seamlessly.  Such skills are extremely relevant in today’s society and the outcome fills each student with a real feeling of job well done.  The young people talk afterwards about their Town Mission guests and how much they have enjoyed hosting them.  We know that their efforts are greatly valued by our Friends and volunteer drivers alike.


Both the above events are very popular with, and much appreciated by, our Friends not only for the fun and entertainment they provide. The parties are a great chance for the chance Friends have to talk to the students when they sit down to tea together.  A real inter-generational event!  


Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College for inviting us to their Christmas event where our Friends played ‘pass the parcel’, and enjoyed a quiz.  They were also entertained with songs and poems by a choir from Dunn Primary school.  Our Friends had a wonderful lunch and even went home with Christmas presents.  Thanks were expressed to all the staff and Travel and Tourism students involved.