2023 has been a remarkable year for our charity. This year we launched our Digital Inclusion Service, created a wonderful Community Garden in Stow-on-the-Wold and were graciously gifted a Mini-bus. To top it off, our dedicated CEO laced up her boots, dusted off her helmet, and pedalled through her own ‘Tour De Friends’ cycle challenge to raise funds and awareness. Join us in celebrating all the achievements of this year that move us ever closer to ensuring that no older or vulnerable person in the Cotswolds is lonely or isolated.
Stow Community Garden, Cultivating Well-being One of the highlights of the year was the launch of the Stow Community Garden in August. With a focus on well-being, this project aims to reconnect individuals with the healing power of nature. Thanks to the generous support from The National Garden Scheme, UK Government, Tesco Groundworks, Travis Perkins Bourton branch, and Assura, the garden has become a sanctuary for locals. Understanding the positive impact of spending time outdoors, Cotswolds Friends ensured that the garden is a welcoming space for all. Although closed for the winter months, the Wednesday afternoon sessions allowed participants to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of nature, promoting mental health and overall well-being. Join us again in the Spring!
Digital Inclusion Project Success In today’s tech-driven world, digital inclusion is vital, especially for our older and vulnerable community members who face challenges in performing everyday tasks online. Recognising the need for support, we launched the Digital Inclusion project, part of our Independence Support Service, aiming to empower our community through IT assistance from trained ‘Digital Champion’ volunteers.
The success of our Crowdfund Cotswold campaign has been pivotal in realising this project’s goals. With funds raised, our volunteers, equipped with compassion and expertise, provide step-by-step guidance to help older and vulnerable individuals feel confident using technology. Cotswold Friends has also joined forces with DAISI and GRCC, extending our support to overcome digital challenges in collaboration. As we move forward, we aspire to train more Digital Champions, offer interactive sessions, and invest in resources like laptops to ensure equal internet access. Our commitment to digital access as a basic right aligns with our values, and we extend our deepest gratitude to everyone who has supported our campaign. Together, we look forward to a future where no one in the Cotswolds is left lonely or isolated, empowered by the connectivity that technology can bring.
Tour De Friends: Cycling for a Cause CEO Jo Hammond took the helm in an epic 450km Cycle Challenge, aptly named ‘Tour De Friends.’ Over 7 weeks, Jo cycled through more than 100 Cotswold Villages, raising awareness of the challenges faced by older and vulnerable people in our rural community. The challenge concluded with an 80km South to North Finale from Ashton Keynes near Cirencester to Mickleton on the 20th of October. To support the cause and help Cotswold Friends reach their £5,000 fundraising target, donations can be made through the ‘Tour de Friends’ campaign on JustGiving: Tour de Friends JustGiving Page.
Champion Fundraisers of 2023 Cotswold Friends owes much of its success to the incredible community spirit shown by its supporters. Chastleton House hosted two bake sales, tantalising taste buds and raising over £800. The recent quiz night, supported by the Black Bear Inn, brought people together, showcased impressive knowledge, and raised more than £160 for us.
Special thanks go to Allen & Son Funeral Directors in Moreton-in-Marsh, who chose Cotswold Friends as their charity of the year. One of their coffee morning fundraisers contributed a whopping £600 to the charity, highlighting the impact local businesses can have on community initiatives.
POP-UP SHOP, A Retail Success Story We took a creative approach to fundraising with our Pop-Up Shop, held in our head office from June to October. Thanks to the generosity of the community, the shop raised an astounding £1,780.77. With a diverse array of items, including books, games, and more, the Pop-Up Shop became a hub for giving back to the community and will re-open in February. We can’t wait to see you all then!
Facts & Figures - How we’ve helped*
- Community Activities grew to 480 attendances per month with 60 individual activity sessions per month
- 18% growth in our Community Transport service
- 13,000 journeys carried out with 150,000 miles driven by our amazing Volunteer drivers with 1800+ registered clients
- 70 Befriending clients supported
- 20+ Telephone Befriending clients supported
- 70 clients supported since the launch of our Independence Support Service
- 1 to 2 clients per month supported by our Hospital Support Service
- Launched our renamed Young Friends programme, bringing over 30 young people to volunteer with us with the aim to bring the Generations Together
- 340 Volunteers dedicated an incredible 50,000 hours of service
As we reflect on the achievements of Cotswolds Friends in 2023, it’s evident that our charity’s commitment to well-being, community engagement, and innovative fundraising has left an indelible mark on the Cotswolds. These accomplishments are not just facts and figures but real stories of positive change, illustrating the power of a community coming together for a common cause. Here’s to another year of compassion, collaboration, and community building with Cotswolds Friends.
Want to join us? We have plenty of opportunities for volunteering to offer you in 2024, click here to find out more
This article was written in collaboration with our lovely Volunteer Milly Peace who got married in December. Congratulations from all of us here at Cotswold Friends!