We become known as Link Age Southwark in October 2015, three years after the merger of two great local charities, Dulwich Helpline and Southwark Churches Care. We are proud of our name, as it reflects our work, our reach and our ambition to link people of all ages across Southwark.
Over 20 years our two founding charities built an understanding of how to serve older people and strengthen the local community. Today, Link Age Southwark builds on that legacy, and has a dedicated team of ten staff with more than 350 volunteers providing services to more than 500 older people across Southwark.
In 2017, just before our 25th anniversary in 2018, Link Age Southwark was named Charity of the Year in the Southwark Stars Awards. Later that same year Link Age Southwark was honoured in the Southwark Civic Awards 2017 with the ‘Liberty of the Old Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell’, in recognition of the exceptional work of our volunteers and the services we provide.
Southwark Churches Care
Southwark Churches Care (SCC) was established in 1994 as an initiative of the Southwark Borough Deans. Referrals of people in need came from social services, district nurses, home carers and directly from older people themselves – very much in keeping with Link Age Southwark’s referral sources.
By the time of the 2012 merger, Southwark Churches Care had a steady flow of referrals and a solid volunteer base to continue its work alongside Dulwich Helpline. It also had two established groups: Golden Oldies at St Mary’s Church in Peckham and Arts and Crafts in King Charles’ Court sheltered housing unit. Groups still operate at both locations today, and are part of the over 20 groups we now offer today, ranging from singing, gentle exercise, arts & crafts and bridge.
In May 1993, members of St Barnabas and Dulwich United Reformed Churches set up Dulwich Helpline. Its founder, Ted Salmon, worked tirelessly for the cause as a Trustee and then as Honorary President and Patron until his sad death in July 2017.
In 1999, Dulwich Helpline received 3-year funding from the National Lottery Charities Board to develop its Befriending Scheme. Funding from Southwark Social Services and Primary Care Trust kick-started hospital visiting.
In 2003 the expanding Dulwich Helpline team and operations moved to larger offices in East Dulwich and was awarded the Southwark Civic Award for ‘Community Services Group of the Year.’ For the next 6 years, Dulwich Helpline was operating with 8 staff, serving 330 older people in the local community with more than 200 volunteers.
The big merger!
In 2011, Dulwich Helpline and Southwark Churches Care started working together more formally as founding members of the Consortium of Older People’s Services in Southwark (COPSINS). To conserve resources, Southwark Churches Care moved to share premises with Dulwich Helpline, and the Boards of Trustees of the two Charities merged the charities in 2012. In October of that year, the first Annual General Meeting of Southwark Churches Care and Dulwich Helpline as a single charity took place, with a shared goal of supporting older people across Southwark. The charity was renamed to Link Age Southwark in October 2015.