Tower Hamlets Friends and Neighbours (THFN) has today accredited as a Living Wage Employer. Their Living Wage commitment will see everyone working at THFN  receive a minimum hourly wage of £13.15, significantly higher than the government minimum for over 21s, which currently stands at £11.44 per hour.

THFN is based in London, a region where 13.3% of all jobs pay less than the real Living Wage – that’s 574,000 jobs. Despite this, THFN  has committed to pay the real Living Wage and deliver a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work.

The real Living Wage is the only rate calculated according to the costs of living. It provides a voluntary benchmark for employers that wish to ensure their staff earn a wage they can live on, not just the government minimum. Since 2011 the Living Wage movement has delivered a pay rise to over 460,000 people and put £3 billion extra into the pockets of low paid workers.

Rita Chadha, CEO of THFN said ‘I am delighted that as part of the next stage of development for THFN, we have become a Living Wage accredited employer. This is important, as it demonstrates our commitment to investing in the people who provide our inavlauble and much needed service in Tower Hamlets’


Katherine Chapman, Director, Living Wage Foundation said: “We’re delighted that THFN has joined the movement of over 14,000 responsible employers across the UK who voluntarily commit to go further than the government minimum to make sure all their staff earn enough to live on.

“They join thousands of small businesses, as well as household names such as Burberry, Barclays, Everton Football Club and many more. These businesses recognise that paying the real Living Wage is the mark of a responsible employer and they, like THFN, believe that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”


Easter and Eid Get Together 

We are delighted to have recently been awarded funding from the Chapman Charitable Trust and Hill Dickinson to support the hosting of a monthly Get Together for those looking to make new friends and connections locally.

We kick things off with a belated Easter and Eid Get Together on Monday 29th April, from 1.00pm-2.30pm at the Bernie Cameron Community Centre in Bow. Thereafter there will be a session on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

If you are a referrer please encourage your contacts to join us. Pre booking is essential. For more information email [email protected]


What we did December 2023 between February 2024

Don’t Forget to Use Your Vote – 2nd May 2024

It’s crucial that everyone is aware of the changes to the voting process. Here are the key points:

Register to Vote:

If you haven’t already, make sure to register to vote. The deadline for registration to vote in the upcoming Mayoral elections on May 2nd is midnight, Tuesday, April 16th.

Photo ID Requirement:

This year’s London Mayoral election will be the first where photo ID is required to vote.

Accepted forms of photo ID include:

Freedom Pass

60+ Oyster card


Driving license

Voter Authority Certificate:

If you don’t have any of the accepted forms of photo ID or if your photo no longer resembles you, you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.

Remember to do this by 5pm, six working days prior to the election (which is Wednesday, April 24th for this year’s London elections).

For more detailed information, you can visit Age UK’s website, where they also have a video on voter ID. Let’s ensure everyone’s voice is heard! 🗳️👍

End of Year Cheer!

We were absolutely delighted this year to be able to share some presents with our clients.

As a small charity with a limited budget, it wasn’t much, but thinking ahead, if you are a business or know someone who would like to help sponsor us for future events please do get in touch Rita


Thank you Body Shop, Canary Wharf

A huge thank you to Sophie and the team at  Body Shop at Canary Wharf, who made us their charity for Christmas, collecting toiletries as presents for our wonderful older service users.

The team will be collecting throughout 2024 – so please do pop in and support us and them.

An Age Friendly London

In November our CEO Rita Chadha attended the launch of Age Friendly London at the Greater London Authority. While work on making sure London is an Age Friendly City has been going on for some time, this is the first time there was a clear action plan to accompany the commitment. Based on the same framework as used by the World Health Organisation, an Age Friendly London benefits all. Making it easier to move around, more accessible, a happier and safer place benefits us all. Here are the key action aspects of the action plan

A city where all older Londoners can live well at home, including increasing the number of affordable homes, ensuring they are designed with older people in mind, tackling fuel poverty and poor living conditions, and that older people’s voices are heard in decision making around housing

A city where older people can easily access public spaces, including the provision of more public toilets

A city that older people can readily get around, improve the accessibility and inclusivity of transport services and facilities, ensure transport services are safe, and provide value for money

A city where all Londoners can participate, help people to vote, engage in social and cultural activities, and volunteer

A city where older people can access good skills and work, encourage more employers to become age friendly employers and more people to access work opportunities

A city where older people age well, supporting access to health services

A city where older people have the information they need, ensuring older people are able to access digital services, challenge ageism in advertising, promote positive communication about and with older people

Taken together, such actions will make sure London is a  city where older people are truly valued. THFN knows we have a role to play in this and will be working hard in 2024 to make sure that Tower Hamlets also does what it can to help our older residents here.

We would like to hear your views, if you would like to help THFN play it’s part in creating an Age Friendly London do please get in touch  [email protected]

What we did in November 2023…

Access denied – Digital council services exclude older Londoners who are offline

As the cuts to councils bite, more are being forced to put an increasing number of services online. For some older people this brings with it a range of issues.

Earlier this year, AGE UK undertook research into how older people could access council services.

Of the 33 London local authorities Age UK sent a Freedom of Information request to:

• Four did not reply, 29 did (unfortunately Tower Hamlets did not respond)

• Five, or 17% of respondents, do not offer any offline access to the services

we named

• Eight, or 25%, do not offer offline access to Blue Badge applications

• Nine, or 31% of respondents, do not offer offline access to council tax reductions

or housing benefit

Of the 29 local authorities that did respond, 17% do not offer either a way to

access the services offline, or any support.

Several councils said it was possible to apply offline using a paper form but the first step in this process was downloading an application form from their website requiring access to a printer too.

Please let us know about your experience – of using online council services. We welcome your views [email protected]

What we did in October 2023…

Poverty Amongst Older Londoners, October 2023

According to new research from Age UK, poverty rates for older people in London remain persistently higher than for the same age group in the rest of the country. 24% of older Londoners (over the age of 50) live in poverty compared to 19% in the rest of England.

London has a smaller older adult population but disproportionately higher levels of poverty. For example 46% of older Londoners living in social housing are in poverty, made worse by fuel poverty in particular.

The report recommends local councils start to include older people in their design of anti poverty strategies.

 Generous Donation from Newline Group

In the run up to Befriending Week, we were delighted to find out that we had been awarded £3,000 from the Newline Group. The funding has come just at the right time, as we explore opportunities to support older adults in the borough through the winter.

This year, as the winter months draw in, and we start the run up to Christmas,  we are looking to create an essential survival kit to help people get through. Body Shop, Canary Wharf have already selected Tower Hamlets Friends and Neighbours as their Christmas Charity and will be providing toiletries. But we are still on the look out for businesses to donate gloves, scarves, shawls, and socks to help with the cold days and nights. if you can help then please do get in touch.

All change – Rajesh Kalhan is moving on from THFN.

After nine successful years as Chief Executive, Rajesh Kalhan will be leaving us. We would like to thank him for all his achievements at THFN and wish him all the best for the future. His replacement, Rita Chadha starts on the 17th October 2023.

Jubilee Fun!

We all enjoyed celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend – some THFN clients were able to attend a tea party whilst others celebrated at local street parties and in their homes. The events were all a huge success and it was lovely how they brought the community together.

Tower Hamlets Covid Community Champions

We are delighted to have been given a Covid Community Champions award.

All THFN staff are Dementia Friends Champions!

We have always been committed to supporting and advocating for people in Tower Hamlets living with dementia, and now with Tower Hamlets Alzheimer’s Society we will continue to encourage others to make a positive difference to people living with dementia in their community. We can do this by giving them and everyone in the community information about the personal impact of dementia, and what they can do to help. Please contact us if we can help.