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CareLink Volunteer Stories – Laura

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This month Saltbox spoke with Healthwatch Stoke-on-Trent’s Community Outreach Lead, Laura Johnson. Prior to joining Healthwatch, Laura spent time volunteering as a befriender with our CareLink service. We caught up with Laura to hear about the benefits of volunteering and how she combined her time with us while studying for a degree at Staffordshire University.

How did you first hear about CareLink?

Laura: I was doing my degree at Staffordshire University which was a BA Honours in Social Welfare, Law and Policy Advice. We had various organisations coming in and speak to us about the work they did in the local community. Saltbox Chief Executive Lloyd Cooke gave a talk about how CareLink helps lonely and isolated individuals across Stoke-on-Trent. It really hit home as my grandparents live in America, so I could relate to how people feel when their family move away and they don’t have their loved ones around them.

What was the best thing about volunteering?

Laura: Interacting with so many different people allowed me to develop new skills which eventually led to a job with Healthwatch. I’m now speaking in front of large groups, sometimes over 100 people, which is something I couldn’t picture myself doing before. It’s really provided me with the experience to participate in the community and interact with so many individuals from different backgrounds. It’s not just an organisation – it’s like a family who are always willing to help and point you in the right direction.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about volunteering for CareLink?

Laura: I’d say it’s most important to be yourself. We all have our own unique quirks and interests. Don’t worry about the age difference if you happen to be young and you’re speaking to someone who is older. You can always find common ground along the way. For example, I really love Norman Wisdom – who would think somebody my age would be a fan of Norman Wisdom? It was back in the day, in black-and-white, but it was something I could relate to when speaking with elderly clients. If you don’t have anything specific to talk about then don’t worry, just ask how their day is going, or tell them what you’ve been up to, or what either of you might have planned. You’ll always be able to find that common ground.


To find out more about the fantastic work Laura and Healthwatch Stoke-on-Trent do, please visit their website at:

If you’re interested in volunteering for our CareLink service, feel free to get in touch for a friendly chat on 01782 810320 or send us an email at

Co-op Local Community Fund Donation

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A big thank you to the Co-op Local Community Fund and all Co-op members who have recently raised £534.22 towards CareLink. The contribution will go directly towards our CareLink service, helping us make more befriending calls and take more lonely and isolated individuals out on day-trips across North Staffordshire.

In 2018, CareLink assisted 185 elderly clients and made 13,500 ‘keep in touch’ phone calls. We also arranged for 100 of our clients to attend day trips at local attractions, including Emma Bridgewater Decorating Studio and Belong Villages, Newcastle-under-Lyme. 

Did you know that if you are a Co-op member then you can select CareLink as your local cause? Once selected, when you buy Co-op branded products and services the Co-op will kindly donate 1% towards our service. More information can be found at

Thank you once again for thinking of us. Every penny received makes a huge difference to elderly and vulnerable individuals across Stoke-on-Trent.

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)