I worked at the NBFA for more than three years. It’s a charity which supports isolated and lonely older people on low incomes. It isn’t a cause which gets a lot of press and the charity, located in Westminster, only has four staff but runs services for the whole country.
It’s most well-known service is its Breaks-Away trips. On these, older people who meet the criteria are able to go away for free to a hotel (typically at a seaside resort) where they make new friends, go on trips, have some decent food and let some of the cares of their at times difficult lives wash away. The stories of many are humbling. Some have never been in a hotel before. Others last traveled when they were evacuated during the Second World War.
I’ve been on the Breaks-Away myself and I know the real difference that it makes. We’ve seen people who at the start of the Break-Away are scared and anxious and by the end they are full of life again and very much don’t want to get on the coach to go home. I have a personal reason to thank the charity too. When I got the job, I went back to Brighton and told my family about it. My mum said that it seemed familiar and we found that an NBFA trip was the last holiday that my grandmother ever went on before she passed away.
NBFA couldn’t operate without its brilliant volunteers. The charity has now made a video for the first time which allows them to share some of their experiences. Please take a look http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMuRr3L4sIg&feature=youtu.be and please share it as widely as possible.
I consider Rusty, one of the volunteers in the video, a friend and an inspiration. He is in his late 80s and continues to support the NBFA in a variety of volunteer roles. While I was at the charity we put him up for a local long-standing volunteer award and he won. He also used to be an actor, so it’s nice for him to get a bit of fame again in the video!