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Telephone Befriending for Older People

A friendly voice can make all the difference if you feel isolated - meet local charity BrightLife!

BrightLife might be a name you haven’t heard of before, but it is the day-to-day name adopted in 2021 of Age Concern Chesterfield and District. Based in Queens Park, Chesterfield, BrightLife provides a telephone befriending service to people over the age of 55 living in Chesterfield, Bolsover and North East Derbyshire. The service is provided by a dedicated team of volunteer Befrienders from Monday to Friday.

BrightLife is a small, local charity, the roots and history of which go right back to the Second World War. It was this wartime period which prompted the setting up of an Old Peoples Welfare Committee (OPWC) by the Council of Social Service in 1940. The committee aimed to improve the situation for older people and gained national recognition. In 1944 it became known as the National Old Peoples Welfare Committee, incorporating a range of organisations working at a local level, to improve older people's lives. In 1946 Chesterfield Borough Council was the first authority in Derbyshire to establish an Old Peoples Welfare Committee in Chesterfield. In 1971 the National Older Peoples Welfare Committee adopted the name of Age Concern and in 1992 there was another key step in the journey when the

North Derbyshire Health Authority funded a part-time officer located in and managed by Age Concern Chesterfield to introduce an Advocacy Service aimed at preventing loneliness.

More recently the Covid Pandemic of 2020 highlighted the need for the charity's support services. Ann Monk, BrightLife’s chief officer, explained that the pandemic revealed many of the issues that lonely and isolated people have had in the past are still a problem for older people today. She said: “Loneliness and isolation occurs for many reasons; but one that has been highlighted during the pandemic is that many people do not live near their families. More families have both adults working. The days have gone where families lived in the same area and supported each other. Many families live and work away from the area their older relatives live in.

“A member of a couple may have lost their partner or someone they provided care for and find it difficult to mix with others now they are on their own. An older person may have been housebound or have mobility problems and cannot get out of their home and they too become forgotten if they do not have family or friends who can help and encourage them.”

One man who lives alone and has benefitted from the befriending service said: “It is lovely to hear your voice on the phone; as the only other voice I hear is on the television.

“Sometimes I feel as if I am invisible”

BrightLife is always looking for more volunteers and would love to hear from anyone interested. All volunteers receive training and are fully supported by staff. Anyone who would like to volunteer or would like a call from a befriender, call BrightLife on 01246 273333, email or visit our website

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