CareLink Stories – Joyce

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Welcome to our new series, ‘CareLink Stories’. Here we sit down and speak to clients who use our CareLink service, whether it be for telephone befriending calls, home visits, community activities or day trips to local attractions. In our first instalment, Joyce, who lives just outside of Burslem, tells us about how she’s been finding CareLink since becoming one of our clients.

Our New and Improved CareLink Service

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Carelink will soon be launching our new and expanded service.

This will incorporate the existing service, which already offers telephone befriending and crisis aversion support, with the primary objective of reducing loneliness and isolation, and building connections amongst vulnerable people over the age of 60.

Some of the new enhancements on offer will be:

  • Establishing small community social friendship groups
  • Face-to-face befriending
  • Expanding into other areas
  • Trips and activities
  • A six-week rolling activity programme

Our first phase will be recruiting volunteers to help support these new opportunities in taking shape.

To find out more information, please email: or Alternatively telephone 01782 810320 ext 2.

CareLink Volunteers Christmas Meal

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Our CareLink volunteers enjoyed a well deserved Christmas Party last week. Saltbox would like to say thank you for all of the hard work, time and dedication our volunteers give towards supporting elderly, lonely and isolated people across Stoke-on-Trent.

A short video of the afternoon can be viewed below.

CareLink trip to Belong Villages

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Last week our CareLink clients enjoyed a trip to Belong Villages in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Formerly the location of Maxims night club, the site has been transformed in recent years to include residential, nursing and bistro facilities alongside a local heritage gallery. A big thank you to the staff who looked after us and put on a delicious early festive meal.

We filmed a short video of the day which you can watch below.

H. Goodwin Funeralcare Charity fundraiser

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CareLink would like to say thank you to H. Goodwin Funeralcare, based in Newcastle-under-Lyme. On 21 October, they held a walk in the park event which raised £40.00 towards our CareLink service.

This kind donation will help us in our ongoing work to tackle loneliness and isolation across North Staffordshire. Thank you for thinking of us 🙂

CareLink on 6 Towns Radio

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We would like to say a big thank you to ‘Smokey Bob’ and 6 Towns Radio who featured Saltbox’s CareLink service on their ‘Charity Matters’ segment earlier in the week. Our very own Linda and Nikki spoke about who we are, what we do and how people from Stoke-on-Trent can get involved with our over-50s befriending service.

You can hear the full interview below (audio credit: 6 Towns Radio)

CareLink Highly Commended in FaithAction Awards

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We’re very proud to see our CareLink service represented in FaithAction’s Faith & Health Awards 2018. Our elderly befriending service, which has spent the past ten years tackling loneliness and isolation across Stoke-on-Trent, was one of two charities featured in the ‘Highly Commended’ section of the awards.

FaithAction aims to shine a light on the best work undertaken by UK faith groups, in particular where faith-based organisations strive to keep individuals in good health while taking pressure off the NHS.

The overall 2018 winner was Hear Here! – Hearing Champions, a partnership between four hospital audiology departments and churches in Surrey and NE Hampshire. Local NHS staff work and train church volunteers to understand hearing impairment and basic hearing aid maintenance, allowing them to offer drop-in clinics in their local communities.

The 2018 Runners-up consisted of  NOAH Welfare Centre, a Luton-based drop-in service for people who are homeless or vulnerably housed, and Purple Room Cafe – The Fed, who provide social care and support to the Manchester Jewish Community through a range of services and initiatives.

Our very own CareLink was next up, featuring in the Highly Commended category alongside The Dairy House Elim Connect Centre, a hostel for rough sleepers in the Mendip area.

Saltbox would like to say a big well done to all organisations involved and thank them for their work in supporting the NHS and improving health and wellbeing across UK communities.

You can read a full write up on the awards over on FaithAction’s official website:

£316 raised at CareLink Charity Evening

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On Wednesday 13 June 2018, we held our CareLink Charity Evening at the Stoke-on-Trent Repertory Theatre. The evening consisted of a production of the play, ‘Nell Gwynn’, and a charity prize raffle. The event was a fantastic success and raised £316 towards our CareLink service.

We’d like to say thank you to the Rep Theatre for hosting us and also donating £5 from every ticket sold to our cause. Also, a huge thank you to all who donated prizes towards our raffle.

To us, £316 means that we can fund 2870 calls to find out how our elderly clients are faring, taking an interest in their welfare, helping them with day-to-day concerns or health issues, and especially lifting them out of chronic loneliness and depression.

A full photo gallery of the evening can be found over on our Facebook page.

Volunteers Week 2018

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Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution that individuals make to charitable organisations across the UK. Here at Saltbox, our volunteers give up their own time to help support us across the broad range of services we provide. This week we speak with our CareLink Volunteer Co-ordinator, Zi Makhiwa. Having worked at Saltbox for just over nine years, Zi is responsible for overseeing 30+ volunteers who in turn donate 370 hours a month towards our CareLink befriending service.  

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you end up working for Saltbox?

Having graduated in Law in 2007, I have had varied roles in my working life. I began as a meat packer then worked as a cashier, replenishing shelves at a supermarket, domiciliary carer then as an admin and care co-ordinator. I’ve also worked in Quality Control, Data Administration and in the mortgage department at a bank.  I came to Saltbox just over nine years ago after having to make a life-changing decision. I was only meant to be covering for a member of staff who was off sick for four weeks but have been here ever since.  My role is CareLink Volunteer Co-ordinator.  I enjoy working with people from all walks of life and enjoy listening to their life stories and what motivates them.

What does your day-to-day role involve?

I’m responsible for scheduling volunteers to ensure that our elderly CareLink clients receive their befriending telephone calls. I also support our volunteers in their roles and occasionally help them in their own lives too. When new volunteers join the team I oversee any recruitment and training requirements. I’m always encouraging them in their day-to-day activities at CareLink. This helps us to maintain an upbeat and exciting environment.  Happiness whilst carrying out your duties does translate over the phone and helps to provide an amazing and supportive befriending service.  Our clients often tell us they can hear a smiling voice over the phone.

What do you look for in a volunteer?

I look for someone who is friendly, caring, good at listening (very important!) and would like to help break up the monotony of the day for an older person who is lonely and isolated. Anyone interested in volunteering can call and speak to me at CareLink on 01782 810320.  Alternatively, they can fill an enquiry form on our website.  Here you will also find more stories from clients who will tell you about what a difference the service has made to them.

Have Saltbox got anything lined up to celebrate Volunteer week?

Oh yes, we do!  This year we decided to break away from the tradition of our usual ‘thank you’ meal. Instead, we’ll be taking our volunteers on a day trip to an amazing location – Carsington Water in Derbyshire.  We felt this would give them the opportunity to go somewhere a little different and also give them time to bond as a team.  They are all really looking forward to spending the day together and having a nice meal at the café there. I’m also looking forward to doing a spot of shopping!  We hope this shows our volunteers how much we appreciate all they do for CareLink. We really would not be able to support our clients as well as we do without our wonderful volunteers.

Stay tuned to our Facebook page for plenty of photos and videos from our volunteer trip to Carsington Water!