We have been supporting older people for over 100 years at Friends of the Elderly (FotE). From serving up ‘Penny Dinners’ to WWI veterans, to pioneering innovations in dementia care, supporting older people is at the heart of what we do.

A brief history

In 1905, The Church Army League of Friends of the Poor was founded following an appeal by The Church Army’s founder, Wilson Carlile, for volunteers to befriend poor families. In 1911, Friends of the Poor became an independent organisation and we changed our name to Friends of the Elderly in 1972.

100 years of support

For over 100 years, we have been responding to the changing needs of people and society. Our first grants service was established in 1905 and, in 1914, the charity received over 28,000 letters from people requesting support.
After the First World War (1914 – 1918), we provided “Penny Dinners” in some of the poorest districts of London and helped men to get work, back pay and pensions when they returned home from the war.

Supporting older people

The need for our support increased during the Second World War (1939 -1945), particularly in the areas of London devastated by bombing. By 1945, we had four residential care homes and our work began to focus on those who were frail and elderly.

As the number of older people requiring nursing care increased throughout the 1960s, we responded with nursing wings in our residential homes and by supporting older people in their own homes or in other nursing homes.
We changed our name to Friends of the Elderly in 1972 and have been providing services that support older people ever since.


FotE continues to support older people to live life well. Our day care services provide engaging daytime activities for people who are still living at home, and our care homes provide residential, nursing and dedicated dementia care for those who need extra support. For older people on a low income, our grants service continues to help people to meet the unexpected costs of daily living and stay connected with their communities.

Find out more about our homes and services, or how you can support us, today.