The 2021 Charity Partner is......The Cares Family

The 2021 Charity Partner is......The Cares Family

The October Club is delighted to announce that their charity for 2021 is The Cares Family – a ground-breaking and multi-award-winning organisation that is tackling one of the greatest issues of our time: loneliness.

Even before the pandemic, two in five people over 65 said the TV was their main form of company. 17% of older people hadn’t spoken to a friend or relative for a week; and 11% for a whole month.

But loneliness doesn’t just affect older people.

Millions of young people also say they feel alone every single day – as their lives are increasingly lived in front of screens at work and at home. Indeed, in recent years, young people have been shown to be the loneliest age group in British society.

This proliferation of loneliness is a personal crisis, a public health crisis and a political crisis – because loneliness causes depression, anxiety, strokes, heart attacks and dementia; it leads to abuse, addiction and other societal problems; and it drives wider separation and polarisation.

During the course of the pandemic, our loneliness crisis has only deepened.

One in four adults reported feeling lonely in November 2020, even before four months of further lockdown. Young people were forced to work or study at home; pubs and gyms were shut; millions of social engagements cancelled. Meanwhile, older people were forced to ‘shield’ from the rest of society to protect their physical health, while experts pointed to a mounting ‘mental health crisis’ and increased intergenerational separation that could deepen the loneliness crisis even further.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

The Cares Family has a decade of experience bringing older and younger people together to reduce loneliness amongst both groups. Through social clubs like dance parties and local history nights; one-to-one friendships that help people to feel part of a changing world rather than left behind by it; and outreach that finds people behind closed doors where they are and brings them into community, The Cares Family has not only improved the lives of 25,000 people, but has also influenced government, business and other organisations around the country to do more to tackle the disconnection at the heart of British life.

The Cares Family now plans to build on its bottom-up experience to create a wave of connection across the country – supporting others to learn from and apply its experience, and to build connection in their own communities in their own ways.

With The October Club’s support, The Cares Family will drive action in 100 communities across Britain, while simultaneously working with more people in its existing locations in London, Liverpool and Manchester – combining into a more connected culture.

Speaking of the opportunity, Alex Smith, Founder and Chief Executive of The Cares Family, said:

“When I first met my 84-year-old neighbour Fred a decade ago, I didn’t know that he hadn’t seen anyone for three months, or that beneath his loneliness he had a life of rich stories to tell, advice to offer and connection to forge. I also didn’t know that I myself had been lonely – commuting to work with other people just like me, starved of the meaning in local community, living in a bubble that needed bursting.

Fred and The Cares Family have shown me that there is a latent desire for people to know their neighbours, for people to live in communities again, and for communities to lead a groundswell of connection that can improve how we all live – together.

As we come out of the pandemic, it will be even more important that we leave no one behind. I’m excited to work with The October Club and partners all over the country to help turn a ripple of connection into a wave.”

Henry Knapman, Chairman of The October Club, said:

“The October Club has long recognised loneliness as a fault line running through the heart of individual lives, local communities and indeed wider society. In thirty three years supporting charities, it’s that affliction – loneliness – which has appeared so often as a root cause of wider trauma and fragmentation.

But, whether in our own work, families, communities or previous charity engagements, we have also seen the power of strong connections and positive, mutual relationships to build togetherness and to build meaningful change.

After a thorough and competitive application process, we are thrilled to be supporting The Cares Family – an organisation which has not only improved 25,000 lives through the power of local intergenerational connection, but which now has the profile, potential and plan to transform wider society too.

As we come out of a period of enforced isolation, we are inspired by the notion that no-one should permanently feel what we’ve all felt over these past 18 months: a feeling of longing, loss, loneliness – and that, instead, with The Cares Family, our community can contribute to building a more connected age.

We’re looking forward to coming together again this year to support such an important, timely cause.”


Notes: For the past 33 years The October Club has been transforming good causes. Each year we identify a UK-based charity with a project, or projects, in several UK regions which could be transformed with our funding. In total the Club has now raised over £13m and in recent years the average raised per dinner has been £500k, making our event the single biggest of its kind in the sector today.

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