Surrey Coronavirus Response Fund Report

4th August 2021

Our new report has launched to share the outcomes of the financial aid delivered to the voluntary and community sector in Surrey through our Surrey Coronavirus Response Fund (SCRF). 

The SCRF launched to get emergency funding to where it was most needed, supporting charities to meet the increasing demand they were experiencing as the pandemic brought new challenges and to help them adapt and deliver their services remotely.

We were met with enormous generosity from local residents, companies and partners, and following an urgent appeal for donations, we were able to effectively distribute over £2.7 million in grants across Surrey – to support 225 organisations working on the frontline.

The report includes further statistics and outcomes from the Fund, including our grant-making by geographical area and to support critical themes of need. Information gathered through research and partnering with a range of local stakeholders, reveals the extreme challenges our county faced and where support was imperative.

We know that our SCRF was just the start of the journey and that there will be a long road to rebuild and recover our county. It is our hope that the community will come together once again in support to address the new and ongoing challenges arising across many areas of Surrey – the rise in children and young people’s mental ill-health, loneliness and isolation, and homelessness to name a few.


Kate Peters, Director of Grant-making at the Community Foundation for Surrey said:

“We are incredibly proud to share this report – to say a huge thank you for the resilience of the sector, and share stories from just some of the inspirational charities working tirelessly to support local people. While we celebrate what we have achieved together, we must not forget that the future of Surrey relies on what we do next. Our Surrey Community Fund is now our vehicle to ensure that longer-term sustainable recovery of the county is possible.”


The Surrey Community Fund will now assist charities and voluntary groups supporting local residents and communities to cope and find a long-term and sustainable pathway to recovery. The priority areas for funding will assist projects around health & wellbeing, education & training, promoting inclusion & overcoming disadvantage, and empowering communities.


Beccy Bowden, Chief Executive of the Community Foundation for Surrey said:

“The SCRF provided support to communities impacted by the virus at the most critical time, and we are most grateful to all of our local Donors and partners that have enabled this level of grant-making. But we know that the hard work is far from over. Many of the inequalities that already existed are now more prevalent, and new challenges have arisen that we could have never predicted. Now is the time to help us support Surrey to build back stronger.”

Find out more about how our Surrey Coronavirus Response Fund provided meaningful support to local people here!


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Sanctuary for Survivors

22nd April 2021

These services are a lifeline to those in our community for whom ‘home’ is the most dangerous place they can be.”


Domestic abuse charity, Your Sanctuary, has been providing lifesaving support to survivors of domestic abuse since 1977. Their dedicated team of staff and volunteers, based in Woking, offer protection, support and empowerment services to survivors and their children, and work towards breaking the cycle of domestic violence.

In Surrey, we know that there are an estimated 35,400 victims of abuse, with 3,300 children visible to services as living in homes where there is domestic abuse.

We also know, that on average 28 domestic abuse crimes are reported to Surrey Police everyday – yet many cases remain unrecorded due to a large number of victims not reporting these crimes.

Your Sanctuary provide a free and confidential support helpline service, and on-line chat service for survivors who find speaking on the phone challenging. This helpline is the only helpline that is available right across Surrey, and is the crucial first step for many, to explore what is happening to them.

On average, the helpline receives 400 calls per month for this vital service – which has dramatically increased since the pandemic began.

Your Sanctuary have found that over 80% of their callers say:

  • They understand more about their rights and options
  • They feel more confident to access other types of support
  • They understand more about domestic abuse and abusive behaviours

Coronavirus has raised public consciousness of the extreme fear and harm that survivors, both adults and children, are suffering all across the country.


Together with the Community Foundation

The Community Foundation for Surrey is a long-term supporter of Your Sanctuary, having awarded 19 grants to the local charity over the past 11 years.

Most recently, we have been delighted to support them at a time where it has never been more critical. Grants from our Surrey Coronavirus Response Fund have enabled the continuation of their online chat and helpline provision, as the surge in demand for these services amidst the pandemic, has stretched their team, and resources to the limit.

“These grants have enabled us to continue running our vital domestic abuse Surrey-wide helpline and online chat service. These services are often the only way survivors who are in lockdown with their abuser can reach out for support and information – they are a lifeline to those in our community for whom ‘home’ is the most dangerous place they can be.”

Fiamma Pather – Chief Executive, Your Sanctuary

Find out more about the Community Foundation’s work to address domestic abuse in Surrey here.


A life without fear

Across all of Your Sanctuary’s services, the charity works from a needs-led and strengths-based perspective to ensure that each client is treated as an individual and is provided with the most appropriate trauma-led emotional and practical support. Through building the self-esteem and confidence of each of their service users, they empower survivors to continue to live their lives free from fear and abuse.

To find out more about services provided by Your Sanctuary, please visit their website.


Homelessness Webinar

15th March 2021

Our ‘Homelessness’ webinar

was part of our Hidden in Plain Sight series, bringing together local people and sector experts to find meaningful solutions to Surrey’s prevalent, hidden issues.

What we heard

Homelessness can affect anyone. We can at any time fall into homelessness due to a series of unfortunate events.

It is a complex and rising issue here in Surrey.

The Goal – to empower people to support those who are homeless, by educating them on the practical steps they can take, to together, find a solution to this issue locally.

‘Surrey Stats’ – Source, Surrey County Council

There is disparity in the current level of homelessness among Surrey’s district and boroughs, with Spelthorne and Epsom and Ewell presenting significantly higher rates (taken from Q3 2020).

The trend levels differ greatly across the county also, increasing the most between Q2 2019 and Q3 2020 in Woking, which is up 70.9%.

From July–September 2020 there were 324 households assessed to be homeless in Surrey. 779 households were considered to be either homeless or threatened with homelessness in the next 56 days.

Although these Government statistics are accurate according to estimation, we know from those working on the frontline that there is likely to be gaps in this data. Depending on how the data is captured – often it is just a snapshot in time, taken from one night of each year. This could be misleading as it could exclude those sofa surfing, homeless homeowners, or those with no recourse to public funds etc.

Housing inequality

Surrey is responsible for having huge housing inequality gaps across its wards. For many, this leads to crisis situations such as homelessness. We know that the median cost of renting a 2-bed flat in Elmbridge is £1,200 a month – almost double that for England as a whole which equates to £700 a month. (Source: ONS, Dec 2020)

Organisations such as Elmbridge Rentstart bridge this gap, providing and assisting in the provision of housing, advice, support and practical assistance, to support single homeless people who are not entitled to statutory support and are termed ‘non-priority.’ These individuals face multiple barriers such as lack of savings for deposits or rent in advance, physical and mental health issues, addiction problems, and unemployment.

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on homelessness

Living without a home, rough sleeping or staying in temporary accommodation is very damaging for health. Homeless people often have many complex health issues, including tri-morbidity (the co-existence of physical and mental health and addiction problems).

Many of the measures aimed at the general population, such as self-isolation, increased hygiene, staying at home, strict social distancing, are not a realistic prospect for people experiencing homelessness. – March 2020

Where do we go from here?

When Covid-19 first hit, the ‘Everyone In’ Government Scheme helped get people off the streets and into temporary accommodation. This was a fantastic initiative to end rough sleeping. However, with the ongoing pandemic and funding running out, it is no surprise homelessness numbers are beginning to rise. It is critical we continue to support those affected by the issue, and the organisations assisting them, to ensure we do not lose the progress that has already been made.

There is real concern that local people could ‘fall through the net,’ and become destitute while they are awaiting support. Local organisations that the Community Foundation supports are experiencing stark demand for their already stretched services.

People are more at risk of homelessness now than ever, due to the economic fallout of Covid – thousands of people are experiencing loss of income due to losing their job, being Furloughed, or the difficulty they are having now accessing support from wider schemes, such as Universal Credit. This inability to retain affordable housing is leading to a rise in the number of rent arrears across the county. There is concern for when the eviction laws change in May 2021.

The Community Foundation for Surrey is committed to supporting homelessness across the county, working together with charities such as Transform Housing & Support, The Hope Hub and Elmbridge Rentstart to ensure the positive local solutions they are delivering, remain available for those most vulnerable within our communities.

Supporting someone who is homeless


Our speakers shared valuable insights into the practical steps you can take to support someone who is homeless.

  • Refer wisely Often people get bumped around different organisations, so finding a direct route for someone prior to referring them can make a huge difference to how they then interact with potential help. For example, if you think someone may be sleeping rough on a national level you can report it to Streetlink. Here in Surrey, there are a number of fantastic local organisations such as Transform Support & Housing providing county wide support.


  • Donate: time, money, expertise – Many organisations rely on the help of volunteers and there are far more ways to get involved than might come to mind. Perhaps helping in the CRISIS delivery side, to working in the kitchen, or if you prefer behind the scenes supporting administrative aspects. Equally, you are likely to have essential skills that could help transform lives. You could donate new and unused items such as toiletries, socks or underwear, as well as homeware items, food, bottled water, sleeping bags or flasks.


  • Be Kind Remember to show warmth and compassion to people experiencing homelessness. How we look (or do not look) at people, and our attitude towards people, can have a profound effect on their perception of their place in the world. While it is inadvisable to give money to people on the streets, it is certainly important to treat people with a genuine empathy and dignity – someone who has a place in society and is deserving of help.

More information on how you can support someone who is homeless can be found in our recent blog:

Seeing the person behind the statistics

You can help give Surrey hope by making a donation.

If you were inspired by what you heard and would like to help the Community Foundation support voluntary organisations which are assisting local communities to cope and find a long term and sustainable pathway to recovery following the pandemic, you can do so by making a donation into our Surrey Community Fund by contacting our Director of Philanthropy Claire Heath on or calling 01483 906383.


You can also add Gift Aid to your donation using our online Gift Aid Declaration form here!

A recording of our webinar is now available. 

Thank you to our inspiring speakers

Rentstart began nearly 20 years ago and over that time the charity has continuously reacted to tackle the ongoing issues that homeless people in Elmbridge face in gaining housing and rebuilding their lives.

Helen’s role as CEO is to make sure the charity is the best that it can be. For Helen, this means housing and supporting those who go to them for help with empathy and intelligence, and ensuring that staff feel supported to deliver their best work. She loves to see the real impact they deliver and enjoys talking with current and ex clients about how they are moving on with their lives.

Helen’s work is also about making sure that as a local charity, they can contribute to a larger arena, sharing their results and ideas with other organisations such as Crisis and Homeless Link.


Mags brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the housing, homeless and voluntary sectors. Having been a CEO of another homeless and vulnerable adults’ charity, The Hope Hub welcomes her expertise as they establish themselves as a professional service provider.

Mags is a qualified member of the Institute of Fundraising and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) encompassing Management and Leadership, Financial Control and Strategic Marketing.

Prior to leading the set up of The Hope Hub in December 2017, Mags carried out a 9 month independent Consultation for Surrey Heath Borough Council around Homeless Services. She was subsequently asked to proceed with the recommendation she set out and went on to set up the charity. Now in it’s 3rd year, The Hope Hub is providing a range of Crisis drop in and Empowerment Services.

The Hope Hub has remained open throughout the Lockdowns and in the period April – December 2020, supported 190 Clients who accessed services 6,979 times.


Find out more about our series of Hidden in Plain Sight webinars!


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22nd February 2021

Local grant assists the surge in demand for support services for survivors of domestic abuse in Surrey

The Coronavirus Response Fund (CRF), established by the Community Foundation for Surrey (CFS) to get urgent funding to local charities quickly, has awarded a significant grant to Surrey Domestic Abuse Partnership (SDAP), a formal partnership of four independent charities, that have come together to support survivors of domestic abuse across our county.

A total of £87,178 has been awarded – with funding from the CRF, together with the generosity of the Foundation’s local donors, and match funding from Surrey County Council. This funding will help these local charities meet the surge in demand for local domestic abuse support services as lockdown restrictions ease.

In Surrey, there are an estimated 35,400 victims of abuse. Since lockdown has lifted, the number of people calling Surrey Police for help has increased, with an 8% rise in the number of incidents being reported. On average, Surrey Police will record 28 domestic abuse crimes every day.

Michelle Blunsom MBE, Chief Executive of East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services says:

“Not only are domestic abuse services facing increased demand for services, but we are acutely aware of the way in which lockdown is impacting upon survivors and their children. The is a significant need not only to sustain services during the pandemic, but also resource them so they can deal with the physical, psychological and emotional trauma that being lockdown with an abuser will create. We are so grateful to the Community Foundation for Surrey and their partners for listening to our need and taking action at a time when this support has never been more of a lifeline.”

The Community Foundation for Surrey, which brings together local donors with those providing positive solutions to the issues facing Surrey, is working closely together with organisations across the county to identify crucial areas where the support within our community is most needed.

The Coronavirus Response Fund gives priority to voluntary organisations providing support to the most vulnerable and isolated. The Fund has two ‘phases’ of funding – with larger Phase 2 grants supporting groups now seeing a tsunami of need for their services. Since its establishment on the 26th March, the local Fund has grown to just under £2 million thanks to the generosity of local individuals, families and Surrey partners. This funding has enabled the Foundation to effectively distribute over £1.4 million to 190 local groups in need of vital support.

A domestic abuse survivor and campaigner says:

“Leaving an abusive relationship is the hardest and bravest decision a survivor can make. Rapid access to services such as the Surrey Domestic Abuse partnership is essential to ensure our physical and emotional well-being. Survivors need support whilst living in these conditions in addition to preparing for, and leaving, if and when that is possible. The incredible generosity of the Community Foundation for Surrey through their Coronavirus Response Fund will enable the Surrey Domestic Abuse Partnership to not only meet the increased demand they now face, but ensure sustained support and provision for survivors and their children.”

Other partnerships that have benefitted from the CRF Phase 2 funding are:

  • A group of 8 Surrey charities led by young people’s charity, Eikon have been awarded £50,000 to help deal with the expected 30% rise in referrals for children and young people’s mental health support services.
  • Over £58,000 was awarded to Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid to furnish and equip a new local Refuge which will provide a place of safety for up to 20 families fleeing domestic abuse.

The Community Foundation for Surrey knows that early positive action makes all the difference for many vulnerable people, and is urging Surrey residents to continue to donate to the Coronavirus Response Fund so those who feel the effects of the pandemic more severely and for longer can continue to access much needed support.

Laura Thurlow, Chief Executive of The Community Foundation for Surrey says:

“With the generosity of our community, our Coronavirus Response Fund has helped hundreds of voluntary groups quickly navigate the sudden challenges of lockdown. We have listened to the needs of our charities every step of the way, and the issues we have identified call for us to come together to meet the imminent surge in demand. This is a crisis that continues to require solutions and we’re urging Surrey residents to get involved and donate.”

To donate, please contact Laura Thurlow at the Foundation on 01483 478092, or visit: 

The Truth About Poverty Webinar

6th November 2020

Our webinar, ‘The Truth About Poverty’ 

was part of our Hidden in Plain Sight series, bringing together local people and sector experts to find meaningful solutions to Surrey’s prevalent, but hidden issues.

What we heard

Destitution* can affect anyone. We can at any time fall into poverty due to a series of unfortunate events.

The Goal – to close the Epsom & Ewell Foodbank, so that there is no one in our communities needing to access it.

‘Surrey Stats’ – Source, Surrey County Council

16% of households in Surrey are classified as living in Poverty compared to 21% nationally.

Research shows that family income impacts on children’s lives and development in a number of ways. Living on a low income can increase parents stress levels, in turn affecting relationships and family dynamics.

8.3% of children in the county are living in relative low-income families. There are 3 wards in Surrey that have nearly 30% of under 16’s living in relative low-income families.

9.5% of all school children in Surrey were eligible for Free School Meals in the 2019-20 academic year.

Over 6,000 people in Surrey live in the 10-20% most deprived areas nationally – mostly in Reigate and Banstead, Woking and Guildford.

Research shows that many people are seeking support for the first time, due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The number of people claiming Universal Credit or Job Seekers Allowance has increased by over 300% in some areas of Surrey.

East Surrey Poverty Truth Commission

brings together those with lived experience of the issue (Community Commissioners), with those in positions of influence (Business, Health and Civic Commissioners) to explore the root causes of poverty, with the object of transforming systems and cultures.

Poverty is a complex issue – “It should not be that luck is the key factor in accessing the right information and advice.” Poverty Truth Commission Report, soon to be released.

The Poverty Truth Commission (ESPTC) provides the opportunity for people to come together and build understanding of the lives of others within their communities. They work together to change the culture of organisations, giving people with lived experience a voice to share the impact that decisions from Government and other strategies have on their lives.

Epsom and Ewell Foodbank – the impact of Covid

In 2020 the foodbank has so far fed 9,801 people, compared to just over 5,000 in the whole 2019.

Over 8 months, the foodbank has seen an average 268% increase.

Trussell researcher has warned food banks with the network that they will have to give out a parcel every nine seconds this winter to meet demand.

The ESPTC are addressing poverty longer-term by contributing in a number of ways to ensure people do not return to the foodbank. They offer various levels of support – providing furniture and access to IT equipment, counselling services, meat vouchers, baby supplies, signposting services, to name a few.

It is vital we work together to ensure people do not become dependant on access to food supplies. Through supporting each other and teaching wider skillsets such as budgeting, and support with finding employment opportunities, we can give local people back their independence and a sense of optimism. These steps will go towards not needing to rely on access to food.

Penny, ESPTC Support Work Lead shares several stories of local people and families facing poverty.


Q. If you had more funds, would having more support officers like Penny help make a difference?

A. Yes, absolutely. We would greatly benefit from whole team! We do believe it makes a huge difference. 

Q. How do you see the role of Food Pantries or Social Supermarkets in the fight against poverty and the provision of wrap around support?

A. These are great ideas. Next year it is on our agenda to explore. The challenge in Surrey is the cost of a premise to deliver the work from. A social supermarket is another great idea that we would be interested in.

Q. How can we help get the learnings from the PTC out to the community and businesses of every size?

A. When we launch our PTC ‘End of Phase One’ Report, please do circulate it as wide as possible. We will be looking to develop the work so would love to be able to present the information to business and civic groups moving forward.

The Community Foundation for Surrey will be circulating this report once it is available. Please check back to this page to find it here in due course. 

A recording of our webinar is available.

Thank you to our inspiring speakers

  • Jonathan Lees, Founder, East Surrey Poverty Truth Commission

Jonathan has worked in the faith and community sector for the last 30 years. Whilst leading the church in Surrey they were exploring about what they could do in the community, and people going hungry was raised. In July 2012, Jonathan launched the Epsom & Ewell Foodbank which has today fed thousands of people and developed its services to include support, furniture, counselling, IT, energy and many other schemes. In 2019, Jonathan launched the East Surrey Poverty Truth Commission due to huge concerns about the rising numbers of food demand. The key goal – to close Epsom & Ewell Foodbank as no one should need food support. A big challenge, but one it is felt in Surrey is achievable.

  • Penny Griffiths, Support Work Lead, East Surrey Poverty Truth Commission

Penny has worked for Epsom and Ewell Foodbank for two and half years, working in depth with clients and their families – helping them to access benefits, manage their money, provide advocacy and emotional support, among many other things. She helped Launch the East Surrey Poverty Truth Commission in April 2019, working with the clients who were directly affected by poverty. Prior to working for the foodbank, Penny worked as a support worker for unpaid carers and with adults with learning disabilities.

  • Nicola Kilvington, Director of Insight, Analytics and Intelligence, Surrey County Council


Further advice and support is available.

Please visit the Surrey County Council webpage

or call their Community Helpline number: 0300 200 1008

Support is also available through Citizens Advice Surrey

Find out more about our Hidden in Plain Sight webinar series here!

*People are defined as destitute if they lack two or more of the absolute essentials that are needed to
live; shelter, food, heating, lighting, clothing/footwear, basic toiletries or if their income is too low to
cover the cost of these bare essentials – The State of Hunger, The Trussell Trust

The Community Foundation for Surrey is committed to supporting East Surrey Poverty Truth Commission to drive sustained change and help bring hope to the lives of local people within our county affected by poverty. Together we can.


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Human Trafficking Webinar

12th October 2020

Our Human Trafficking webinar

was part of our Hidden in Plain Sight series, bringing together local people and voluntary sector experts to find meaningful solutions to Surrey’s prevalent, but hidden issues.

What we heard

There are more people in slavery today than ever before. It is the fastest growing illicit trade.

‘Surrey Stats’

Surrey is in the top third of all police force areas in terms of the number of modern slavery victims coming forward.

Location ‘hotspots’ within Surrey identify Walton on Thames and Chertsey, Guildford and Woking as prevalent trafficking areas. Epsom, Leatherhead and Reigate are also areas of concern.

Every type of exploitation (aside from organ harvesting) has been identified in almost every corner of Surrey, representative of every age group and nationality.

Over the last 2 years Justice and Care has been advising on over 300 Police investigations in Surrey with open links to modern slavery and human trafficking.

So far this year Surrey Police have already opened 200 new investigations into human trafficking, averaging 5 a week.

The wider picture

Three things people need to know about slavery: it is everywhere, it is brutal, and it is big business.

There are at least 100,000 victims of slavery right here in the UK.

The majority of victims are just children when they are first trafficked, 70% of victims are women and girls.

It is beatable –

Justice and Care first launched their Victim Navigator role here in Surrey, enabled by funding from the Community Foundation, to help identify, save & support victims of modern slavery within the county.

This pioneering pilot project is already showing fantastic results, such as the 83% of victims coming forward to Surrey Police to support investigations, as opposed to 30% nationally. By August next year, Justice and Care will have 10 Victim Navigators working shoulder to shoulder with police teams across the UK.

Victim Navigators provide specialist care for rescued victims, advising police investigators and keeping victims engaged in the dismantling of criminal networks. They also train specialist police units and leaders to spot signs of slavery.

Sarah, Surrey’s Victim Navigator tells the story of 4 women found trapped inside a large Surrey estate, forced to work 19 hour shifts as housekeepers without breaks. These women had their passports taken away from them and were told at gun point they would be killed if they tried to escape.

A recording of our webinar is now available. 

Thank you to our inspiring speakers

  • Superintendent James Collis, Surrey Police

James is the Force and Regional Lead for modern slavery, including human trafficking, sex work and prostitution based in East Surrey.

  • Christian Guy, Chief Executive, Justice and Care

Previously, Christian was a Special Adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron and the Chief Executive of the Centre of Social Justice (CSJ), a London-based think-tank. Whilst leading the CSJ, he oversaw its landmark UK human trafficking inquiry, It Happens Here, which led to the 2015 Modern Slavery Act.

  • Sarah, Victim Navigator, Justice and Care

Sarah works in partnership with Surrey Police as one of Justice and Care’s five Victim Navigators. In her role, she connects survivors with end to end support and information about their rights and options whilst also providing tactical advice and training to police to improve victim identification, engagement and prosecution rates.

Protecting survivors of slavery takes all of us.

Can you help Justice and Care achieve their vision? Become a volunteer now!

Are you interested in joining with others in Surrey to raise awareness and improve local systems? Find out more about Surrey’s Anti-Slavery Partnership Group and how you can get involved by contacting Superintendent James Collis on 01483 6 33313.

If this session has raised concerns about a potential victim, contact the Modern Slavery Helpline for 24/7 support on 08000 121 700 or online, at If you believe someone is in imminent danger, contact 999.

Find out more about our Hidden in Plain Sight webinar series here!


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Journalism Matters Week: 7 SurreyLive stories that show the importance of local news

8th October 2020

We’re delighted to feature twice in the top 7 news stories released by SurreyLive this week. Our thanks go to the SurreyLive team for supporting the Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response Fund since it launched on March 26th. 


Read the article here! 


Loneliness and Isolation Webinar

11th September 2020

Hidden In Plain Sight
Webinar Series

Loneliness and Isolation

Our Loneliness and Isolation Webinar

was the third of our Hidden in Plain Sight Webinars, bringing together local people and voluntary sector experts to share the insights from organisations that are providing vital services across our county.

What we heard

Feelings of loneliness and isolation can take a terrible toll on people’s health – that’s their mental, physical and emotional health. It is linked to depression and leaves people feeling empty, unhappy and unwanted. 

‘Surrey Stats’

There are currently around 232,000 people aged 65 and over living in Surrey.

A third of residents aged 65+ (that’s almost 76,000 older people in the county) live alone.

The large majority of these older people who are living alone (some 47,000 people) are amongst the older age range – being 75 and over.[i]

The wider picture

The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and a research survey for Age Concern[i] have both found the prevalence of loneliness among older people to be around one third. In Surrey, this equates to over 77,000 older people experiencing loneliness, with 35,000 of those being in the 80+ age group.

The impact of living alone (research conducted prior to the pandemic)

Older adults who live alone are more likely to attend accident and emergency compared to older people who live with others [ii]. They are also more likely to visit their GP – with 21% of those who live alone visiting their GP at least once a month.

Older adults who live alone are also more likely to have multiple (defined as 3 or more) long term conditions.

Older people that live alone are more likely to have mental health conditions.

Lack of social networks have been shown to be just as powerful predictors of mortality as common lifestyle and clinical risks such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Charities such as Woking Age Concern and Farncombe Day Centre have had to adapt their services quickly to continue to support their vulnerable clients. An issue that was already prevalent in Surrey, has become even more challenging to address due to restrictions put in place as a result of the pandemic.

What are some of the barriers these charities have faced due to Government restrictions?

No face to face services where clients can come together to experience vital socialisation with volunteers and other clients, the digital divide between those unable to access or use technology to communicate, many older people that already felt isolated are now even more anxious, with major concerns around access to food, shopping and medical supplies.

Further arising issues

Socialisation is the key issue to address going forwards. It is vital clients can see and interact with others face to face to support their mental health and to gradually build up their confidence going back into the community after shielding longer-term.

What does the future of these services look like, without further urgent support?

Charities providing vital support to older and isolated local people are struggling, due to the increasing demand for their services. They have lost the fundraising opportunities crucial for their financial stability and are unable to get out into the community to raise awareness of these needs.

Both charities share compelling stories on behalf of their clients, about how loneliness and isolation makes them feel, and in one case, how the support of their charity has quite literally, saved a life.  

*Warning – contains upsetting content

A recording of our webinar is available.

Thank you to our inspiring speakers

  • Annette Clarke, Centre Manager, Farncombe Day Centre

The charity operates for those living in the Farncombe, Binscombe and Ockford Ridge areas of Godalming and is open every weekday throughout the year. The Centre runs multiple services to support the health and well-being of its clients, including Chiropody, Hairdressing, lunches, afternoon entertainment and day trips out, with the aim to enable older people to be independent and allow them to enjoy life in their own homes for as long as possible.

Annette has been Manager of Farncombe Day Centre for seven years. She thoroughly enjoys her role, and is involved with everything that takes place at the Centre in providing a welcoming and stimulating environment in which to meet and promote better health among this community.

  • Jackie Crouch, Support Officer, Woking Age Concern

Woking Age Concern is a small, independent charity whose aim is to give free support to older people in and around the borough. The charity’s mission is to promote the wellbeing of older people by offering friendship, information and support, through its services. The charity helps to alleviate feelings of vulnerability and loneliness by arranging regular visits for clients from staff and volunteer ‘friends’.

Jackie joined Woking Age Concern in August 2016. In 2018, Jackie and her colleague Shiela were given the opportunity to oversee the running of the organisation. She likes that no two days are the same and that this role has enabled her to develop new skills when supporting their clients.

  • Shiela McAree, Support Officer, Woking Age Concern

Shiela joined Woking Age Concern in January 2016 after having previously volunteered for the organisation.

In September 2018, Sheila joined Jackie in managing the charity. She enjoys being part of a small, dedicated team and feels privileged to work within an organisation supporting older local residents.


Do you or someone you know feel lonely and/or socially isolated? If so, please be assured help is available.

Visit the Healthy Surrey website for further advice and support.


[i] English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and ICM Research survey for Agenda for Later Life, Age Concern and Help the Aged, 2009/10 (unpublished) cited by Age

[ii] Dreyer, Steventon, Fisher, & Deeny, 2018 – cited by Age UK in


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Reduced Income

8th September 2020

Many organisations have seen significant proportions of their traditional funding streams cancelled during the pandemic and many are experiencing huge un-forecasted and unplanned losses of income.

August 2020

Centres have been closed, fundraising events have been cancelled, donations have dropped due to the impact of personal and global financial circumstances.  Large benefactors have been unable to donate due to financial uncertainty and collecting tins have remained empty in closed pubs and restaurants.

Organisations have reported losses of up to £1,000,000 in their forecasted income this year, whilst the resources of small charities have been decimated by losses in the region of £7,000 (eliminating up to 90% of their income).

A small local organisation that supplies transport for vulnerable people so they can attend medical appointments has reported that their income has dwindled to practically nothing due the Covid-19 crisis.

A Counselling Service has seen a 70% drop in income whilst facing a huge increase demand for their service.

A larger organisation in Surrey advised:

At this time, we are facing a sudden and unexpected financial loss of over £500,000 and do not yet know the long-term financial deficit we can expect to see across this year and facing additional costs to battle Covid-19. In the first quarter alone, we anticipate it will be in excess of £1m, as such we face acute financial hardship. We have taken many measures to help ourselves through this crisis and had to take the difficult decision to place 80% of our staff on furlough and were forced to temporarily close our retail stores, sister charities and services.”

A local advice and support group advised us that the current restrictions mean that they have not been able to hold monthly high street collections which traditionally has been their main source of regular income and generate about £400 per collection. They estimate that some or all of the anticipated £10,000 fundraising income could be lost over the year.  Not only has the group lost a significant amount of its income, it is incurring additional costs as a result of Covid.

Another organisation advised that:

“The financial impact of Coronavirus is potentially huge – we are not anticipating being able to generate income effectively for most of this financial year, and the most recent forecast shows that we are set to have a deficit of £100,000 this year”.

A local charity reported:

“Due to Covid-19 we have lost three income streams for our charity. The combined value of these income streams is £400,000 over a 12-month period”.

Another organisation advised us:

“Current restrictions will have a significant and devastating impact on our budget, which is heavily reliant on an ongoing programme of small community fundraising and a large public event in the autumn. Projections leave us with a deficit of between £40,000-£65,000. Whilst we are fortunate enough to hold heathy reserves to cover some of this; our core service delivery is still at risk, and we desperately need additional funding to ensure we can continue to support vulnerable families in this time of extreme crisis”.


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