Tower Hamlets Friends and Neighbours have been providing services to Older People in the borough since 1947. We provide befriending and advocacy services to people in the borough aged 55 and over and experiencing loneliness and social isolation.
THFN is an independent charity which has been supporting older people for over 70 years. We were founded in 1947 as Stepney Old People’s Welfare Association. The name was subsequently changed to reflect the fact that our befriending service operated throughout the borough of Tower Hamlets, and in 2003 we became a charitable company, Tower Hamlets Friends & Neighbours — ‘THFN’.
The people we support are isolated and vulnerable. They do not have family or friends who can support them regularly. The majority are over 80, many are in their 90s. Most have a long-term health problem or disability and limited mobility and describe themselves as housebound. 97% of the people we see are referred to us with depression, and over 40% have dementia.
The needs of the people we support have increased over the years. There was a time when many of those we visited could get out and about unassisted, but there are very few now who can. We have changed our services over the years to meet the changing needs.
We operate from offices in Bethnal Green. Our services are provided by a team of befriending workers and volunteers, all of whom are required to have a DBS check and receive full training in the work they do. Within our team we have speakers of Bengali, Sylheti, Hindi and other languages which are spoken by people we support. Some of our team have been with us for many years, which combined with having both paid and volunteer befrienders, ensures continuity, longevity and flexibility in our befriending services, which are highly valued by the people we visit.
Our services reduce social isolation and loneliness, promote physical and mental well-being, and help people to get all the support they need to stay as independent as possible.
We are very grateful to all our funders and contributors, without whom our work would not be possible. Our funders include trusts, companies, generous individuals (which includes some of those we visit), the Big Lottery Fund and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, all of whom value and support our work.
A complete list is given in our Annual Report and Accounts each year.