Skip to main content



CareLink uses telephone befriending to support people over 65 in Stoke-on-Trent who are struggling with the effects of loneliness and isolation, to keep them healthy and independent in their own homes for as long as possible.

Trained volunteers phone our CareLink friends at regular times each week with the purpose of:

  • Showing service users that someone cares and is interested in them
  • Reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Monitoring health and wellbeing
  • Getting to know people, and picking up concerns before they become serious
  • Reminding people to take medication, keep warm and eat regular meals if needed
  • Building up trust to increase confidence
  • Encouraging and facilitating participation in community groups or other social activities
  • Keeping people healthy, happy and independent in their own homes

Volunteers chat with their CareLink friends about whatever interests them, including families and memories. Knowing that someone cares about what is important to them has a powerful impact on their sense of well-being. Because our volunteers speak to the same people regularly, they are able to pick up signs that all might not be well. For instance, unusual levels of confusion could be an indication of an undetected urinary tract infection which can develop into a health crisis if untreated.

When volunteers pick up concerns, they pass them on to our experienced staff, who identify and carry out the best course of action including speaking to next of kin, offering direct practical support to attend medical appointments, or accessing other services.


CareLink friends are referred into our service by a range of routes, including family & friends, and other professionals such as GPs, hospital staff, social care staff, and other voluntary sector organisations. They can even refer themselves, either by phone on 01782 810320 Ext 2 or by visiting the REFERRALS page on this site.

On receiving a referral, our trained staff contact the person by phone within two working days, to find out a bit more about their situation and to explain the service to them. If they wish to continue the process, a member of staff will arrange to visit them within five working days, and talk further in the comfort of their own home.


Once somebody has been accepted into the service, staff will take a holistic approach to assessing all aspects of their lives, establish their individual health needs and medication regimes, and help to identify any other challenges which are preventing them from being as healthy and independent as possible. They will then be assigned a level of care, or tier. This ‘Getting to Know You’ process is repeated every six months to make sure that we always have the most up-to-date information.

Tier 1

The service user will receive regular befriending calls, along with low key advice such as signposting to other sources of help.

Tier 2

When needs are identified as more complex or deep-seated, clients will be assigned to Tier 2. Issues that contribute to a Tier 2 rating include:

  • A recent spell in hospital and subsequent recovery
  • An ongoing health problem or increased impact of conditions such as dementia
  • A recent bereavement or similar family crisis
  • Particular difficulties with housing, neighbourhood, money or similar issues which accentuate vulnerabilities.

Tier 2 beneficiaries will get more face-to-face help and support in addition to their befriending calls. Support may include taking people to appointments, helping them to engage with and secure other services, identifying suitable social activities, and supporting them to attend until they are able to do so independently. They will also be reviewed more regularly.


We recognise the importance of working effectively with other professionals, to reach the best outcomes for those we support. During the Getting to Know You phase of assessment, we establish whether any other organisations are already helping that person, and ensure that we all work together effectively.

Where more specialist help is needed, we help CareLink friends to access the right services by signposting and referring them in, ensuring that their needs have been met.


An important part of our mission is to help people socialise and reconnect with their community. Through grants from the Big Lottery Celebrate Fund and One Stop Stores, we have been able to take small groups of service users on monthly heritage trips to different places around the city. To see photos of past trips out to local places including Emma Bridgewater, Royal Stafford, Gladstone and Stoke City Football Club head over to our GALLERY page.


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.