In 2022 THFN celebrated 75 years of befriending older people. We were first set up as Stepney Old People’s Welfare Trust in 1947 and since then, have been known by various names, as has the area where we operate now called London Borough of Tower Hamlets. THFN is a registered charity operating from community buildings in Bethnal Green with a small staff team and over 30 volunteers.

THFN directly supports over 250 older people each year, experiencing loneliness and social isolation through befriending and advocacy. Our core activity is visiting them at home, organising outings and other events and more recently, through distance befriending, primarily via the telephone. Indirect beneficiaries include family and friends of those we support, so in all the real number of beneficiaries may be at least 350 people.

The average age of our clients is 79. In 2021 over 90% of the people referred to us were experiencing depression and over 30% diagnosed with dementia, a figure we have seen steadily rise over the years.  The need for our support is self-evident and recognised by the local health and social services from whom we receive over 90% of our referrals.

In 2022 we celebrated our 75th Anniversary with a series of afternoon tea parties bringing people together; either at a community venues or brought into their home by a Befriender.

Photo Exhibition – As part of our 75th Anniversary celebrations, we have delved into our “family album” of photographs of our clients over the years and the activities in which we have been fortunate enough to participate. These range from coach trips to the coast to our befrienders making telephone contact with our clients during the COVID pandemic, when social distancing regulations made face to face visits impossible.

We have some remarkable and amazing stories to share, and as we look towards marking our centenary, we will be pulling together a publication documenting our history and contribution to Tower Hamlets and older people.