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 has a dedicated team of ten staff with more than 350 volunteers providing services to more than 500 older people across Southwark.
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, both of which continue to run today. Michele McKeown, who began working with SCC in 2007, is now a Volunteer Coordinator with Link Age Southwark.
In May 1993, members of St Barnabas and Dulwich United Reformed Churches set up Dulwich Helpline. Today, its founder Ted Salmon still works tirelessly for the cause as a Trustee and Honorary President of Link Age Southwark.
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 soon 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.