The Cares Family started in 2011 when our founder, Alex, was canvassing for votes as a council candidate in the local elections. As he was doing his rounds, knocking on doors, he met Fred, an 84-year-old neighbour who hadn't been out of his house for three months. Alex wheeled Fred in his wheelchair to the voting place, and the next day returned to help Fred get a hair cut.
As the pair became friends, it became clear that this was a truly mutual relationship: Fred was reducing his isolation through his interactions with Alex; and Alex was feeling more connected to his community than ever before, hearing about Fred's amazing stories and discovering what they have in common.
In that moment, the idea for The Cares Family was born.
Opening in 2011, North London Cares was the first branch. Over three years it developed four programmes to bring older and younger neighbours together to share time, friendship and new experiences through Social Clubs, a one-to-one Love Your Neighbour friendship programme, Outreach and Community Fundraising.
South London Cares followed in 2014. In 2017 Manchester Cares arrived, followed by Liverpool Cares in 2018 so that The Cares Family was operational in two more great, rapidly changing cities with heritage and heart at their core.
We are now building East London Cares to connect the past to the present to the future in another urban setting built on creativity and commerce, migration and meaning.
Across The Cares Family, some 15,000 older and younger people have now found confidence, community and connection through new relationships with their neighbours, and the changing landscapes around them.
The model is important because it targets the two groups most at risk of loneliness – and because it works.
Three evaluations have shown that The Cares Family's programmes reduce isolation, improve relations across the generations and help people to feel happier, closer to community, that they miss other people less, and that they have more people to rely on in times of need.
Visit the local branch websites to find out more about how the model has helped older and younger people alike to feel part of their changing world, rather than left behind by it.