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FROM 2007

Saltbox began to develop its work with older people in 2007 through the CareLink project, with an initial grant to develop and trial a telephone monitoring and befriending service over a two-year period in Stoke-on-Trent. The trial was such a success that the Big Lottery Fund agreed to fund the service for a further three years.

During the three years of Lottery funding we supported 1551 vulnerable, frail and older people to maintain independent living and healthier lifestyles. This support consisted of over 24,000 monitoring calls every year, delivered with the support of more than 30 locally recruited and trained volunteers. Alongside the calls, we also made over 560 referrals to other supporting organisations where additional care needs were identified. Many of those referrals brought to light declines in health or welfare, which could otherwise have caused an urgent crisis, often requiring medical intervention, an unplanned hospital stay or removal from home on safety grounds.


Due to the success of the service, at the beginning of 2015 CareLink was granted funding through the Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group (the department that decides which services to spend NHS money on), to continue and develop the service. Their decision was based on:

  • The positive health benefits, mentally and physically, that were reported by those who felt that the service had taken them out of loneliness and isolation
  • The cost savings to the NHS in the reduction of unplanned overnight hospital stays, A&E visits and GP appointments required to treat those who are already in crisis or who have nobody else to call on when minor issues arise

CareLink has been delivered non-stop since that first trial ten years ago, plugging the gap in adult social care for preventative well-being services. Although part of the voluntary sector, CareLink has become an integral part of local state healthcare provision for older people’s health and welfare. It’s no wonder that the demand and popularity of the service has been overwhelming and is increasing every year!

We continue to develop the service to provide as much support as possible to those with the greatest needs, never forgetting that at the heart of each case file is a lonely older person who needs somebody to take a personal interest in them. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

To see a full description of the levels of care that we provide and how we work with partner organisations to ensure a joined-up approach to our clients’ health and well-being, head over to OVERVIEW section of the site.

Or maybe you’d like to meet some of OUR FRIENDS and see how they have benefitted from the service.


If you know someone over 65 who struggles with social exclusion, search our community directory map for events, groups and services that can help nearby.


There are many ways you can make a difference to older people who live near you, from volunteering to make phone calls to organising activities.


Help us help older people struggling with life’s challenges alone by donating to CareLink. Click to visit our donations page.