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Local Age UK partners merge to support older people

Published on 01 July 2020 02:11 PM

Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove and Age UK Horsham District merged today, allowing the charity to help even more local older people through Coronavirus and into the future.

Originally two independent charities, the merger allows them to share expertise, resources and local knowledge, ensuring services are sustainable and able to support the increased demand generated by Coronavirus. The Horsham District name will remain in that area, although the charity as a whole will be formally known as Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove.

Although merger discussions were ongoing prior to the pandemic, the impact of Coronavirus on income across the charity sector emphasises how important it is for charities to work together to reduce overheads. One larger charity can be run more efficiently and the money saved will mean more of each donation can be directly invested in frontline services.

Both charities have completely changed the way they work during the current crisis, focusing on doorstep deliveries of groceries and medication, befriending phone calls and ‘information and advice’. As lockdown eases and things return to a new ‘normal,’ it’s anticipated that the usual services and activities will resume. There will continue to be dedicated staff and volunteers in Horsham and the charity plans to develop new activities and support options for people aged 50+.

Maureen Vallon, Trustee at Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove and previous Chair of Age UK Horsham District said “This merger makes us a stronger, more sustainable charity.  With Coronavirus hitting our income hard, there’s no better time for us to come together and pool our resources. We have an incredible team of staff and volunteers who are working tirelessly at the moment to be there for older people in crisis. We’re putting ourselves in the best position to respond to that need and adapt for the future so people can continue to turn to us in the months and years ahead.”

Helen Rice, Chief Executive at Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove said “This is such a difficult time for many older people, so it’s more important than ever that we’re ambitious, efficient and flexible. This merger allows us to protect existing services and develop new ones. Right now, we’re helping some of the most vulnerable people in our community get food and medication and making sure those who are lonely hear a friendly voice regularly. In due course we’ll also be back to helping people make the most of later life through our centres, social groups and activities. I feel so proud to be heading up this bigger team, who are there for people during good times and bad.”

Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove and Age UK Horsham District were both brand partners of Age UK National, but existed as separate entities, each with their own Board of Trustees and separate finances. Trustees from both organisations are now represented on the Board of Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove.

The combined organisation will offer more services to benefit older people than each offered as individual charities. Before Coronavirus, Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove helped more than 15,000 older people a year, tackling a range of issues like poverty, social care and loneliness. The charity provides information, advice and services for those who need help or support. Age UK Horsham District offered similar services, as well as unique offerings like rural outreach – which may now be extended across the merged charity.  

Both charities saw a dramatic increase in demand following the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic and that demand continues today. Together they will be stronger to meet the needs of older people.