It’s almost two years since Mike first contacted me about joining him in the establishment of a new kind of local charity in Doncaster – b:Friend; one aimed at supporting older people and through this process enriching the lives of others, all bringing together a spirit of community.
This was only four months after the murder of Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire.
It is hard to think of a time where our county was more divided – between young and old, North and South, rich and poor. Jo’s death marked a national awakening of the need to examine the ways in which we were living, acknowledging the fragmentation and separation associated with modern life and the breakdown of community and social institutions over the past thirty years.
b:Friend has revealed a way to re-kindle connections, to encourage intergenerational communication and conversation.
In the first 12 months, we have worked hard to create an identity through local collaboration with health, social care and other voluntary sector providers.
We have received financial support from the Big Lottery and many other national, regional and local sponsors to enable our growth and expansion, ensuring that all processes are safe, robust and appropriate for the growth of new relationships.
As with the rapid pace of change within society, there is an increasing need for individuals to extract meaning from their lives; relationships are the intangible that can add quality and essence to life.
I anticipate over the next year, we will continue to grow with the recruitment of more volunteers and older neighbours, growth in the numbers of Social Clubs and the establishment of more sustainable sources of income.
I wish to thank our volunteers, funders, supporters and friends for the tremendous hard work and effort invested in supporting the charity and wish you all the best for the future.
Dr Rod Kersh, Chair, b:Friend