Happy New Year and welcome to my first blog of 2024

This month I’d like to look back over 2023 and share some highlights of the past year.

At Friends of the Elderly, ensuring the wellbeing of our residents and clients is at the heart of all we do, and 2023 was no exception. Alongside our usual activities, the first half of the year saw a number of additional, new pursuits take place; together with many celebrations for landmark birthdays, with many of our residents celebrating their centenary birthdays and some their 101st and 102nd special days.

The RNNH ( Retired Nurses National Home), our residential and dementia care in Bournemouth, welcomed a special visitor, George Smith, who was the care home’s original ‘milk boy’ back in 1948, residents at Davenham; our nursing home at Malvern was treated to a piano recital by Alex Hallett, a student at The Chase School in Malvern; and Instagram star ‘The Folding Lady’, Sophie Liard, put her best foot forward and started training to run The London Marathon on behalf of the Charity.

Sophie’s fantastic effort resulted in over £8,000 being donated to Friends of the Elderly, and another runner, Zoe Butler, also ran the Marathon for New Copford Place, our residential care home in Colchester.

Despite suffering an injury, Zoe made it over the finishing line raising £730 for the care home.

We were also delighted to receive a wonderful donation of £308.00 from Esme Sheen, a seven-year-old who, along with three of her friends and their mums, took on – and completed – West Dorset’s Three Peak Challenge.

During the second half of the year, our care homes and day care services continued to grow their activities and interactions for our residents and clients.

At Redcot, our residential care home in Haslemere, The Redcot Arms Pub, was officially opened, as our brand-new social area, by The Mayor of Haslemere, Councillor Jerome Davidson and Sophie Liard.

The RNNH celebrated National Bingo Day with a special game hosted by Jan Broughton. Jan has been a volunteer at RNNH for over eight years and is the care home’s official ‘Bingo Queen’ as she has managed the weekly sessions since 2015.  

Our residential care home in Alton, The Lawn, hosted its inaugural Dog Show, which saw the residents having a ‘paw-fect’ day. Judged by two residents, dogs of varying breeds took part in 10 award categories, Waggiest Tail, Most Handsome Boy, Prettiest Girl, Best Behaved Dog, Naughtiest Dog, Best Rescue, Best Pedigree, Best Young Handler, Most ‘Looks Like Its Owner’ and Dog The Judges Would Like To Take Home – and, of course, Best in Show.

At Little Bramingham Farm, our residential care home in Luton, the care team formed a new community relationship with YAWN Life, a community interest company (CIC) and the day service related to the YAWN charity. YAWN Life was created specifically for sociable young-at-heart adults who have learning disabilities, and members of the YAWN Life group visit Little Bramingham Farm every Tuesday for three hours to help with the upkeep of the care home’s beautiful gardens – with a little gardening advice from our green-fingered residents.

For over a year, residents have also been enjoying weekly visits from a Cockapoo named Winnie the Pooch. As a qualified Pets As Therapy (PAT) Dog, Winnie spends every Monday morning with the Little Bramingham Farm residents enjoying fun games and plenty of cuddles. At Friends of the Elderly’s Malvern Day Care in Worcestershire, clients enjoy weekly visits from Monty, a cheeky and loving Golden Retriever, who is also an accredited PAT dog.

During the summer months, we also hosted summer fairs and participated in Care Home Open Week (CHOW) 2023, We also became a Finalist in The Caring UK Awards 2023 for Dementia Team of the Year. Through our Dementia Education Programme, Friends of the Elderly now has 66 trained Dementia Champions who work in its care homes and day care services and I’m extremely proud to say that in December, we were awarded the title of Runner-Up in this prestigious award category.

Throughout the year, we honoured and took part in many national and international days – World Health Day, National Nurses Day, VE Day, International Day of Older Persons, World Alzheimer’s Month and Armed Forces Day to name a few. Our residents and clients kindly shared their life experiences and past histories to pay tribute to these memorable days and events.

Our staff are the backbone of the Charity and we wanted to recognise all their hard work, commitment and dedication to our residents and clients. We honoured our long service staff members who have given so much of their time, energy and loyalty to Friends of the Elderly, which was a great opportunity to celebrate their long and dedicated service.

At New Copford Place members of the care team together with a selection of relatives, took part in an interactive, immersive dementia experience, which gave them a deeper insight into living with dementia. Taking part and being enveloped in the sensory experience gave all the participants a greater appreciation of dementia.

As the year drew to a close, and the festive season arrived, all our care homes and day care services spread the Christmas Spirit with an array of yuletide activities, a vast entertainment calendar and lots of merry and jovial visits.

We also launched our 2023 Winter Appeal. With recent figures showing that 2.1 million of pensioners in the UK live in relative poverty, our 2023 Winter Appeal was actioned to support older people this winter, by paying for grants for essentials such as winter clothing, warm bedding, food and heating bills.

Its aim is to raise vital and essential funds for the Charity’s Grants Service which helps and supports older people living throughout England and Wales who are State Pension age and living on low incomes, paying for essentials that they cannot otherwise afford. Its goal is to raise money to help alleviate some of the numerous challenges that older people face this winter, many of whom will reach crisis point in the cold, isolating months ahead and will have nowhere else to turn.

If you’d like to donate and support our 2023 Winter Appeal, please visit https://www.fote.org.uk/winterappeal23/

I hope this yearly round-up blog has been interesting and, as ever, if you have any questions, you can always email me at chiefexecutive@fote.org.uk 



Chief Executive of Friends of the Elderly


Steve Allen, Chief Executive of Friends of the Elderly, writes a regular blog which gives insight into his role at the Charity.
He offers information and advice about important areas affecting older people and their families. Steve can be reached at chiefexecutive@fote.org.uk. 

Watch this space for more of Steve’s posts.