Mackman has been working with the charity My Home Life Essex Community Association, supported by Essex County Council and Age UK Essex, to launch a new campaign website to encourage volunteers to support older people living in care homes across Essex. This new movement is called Friends and Neighbours (FaNs) and its campaign encourages volunteers to ‘Make Every Moment Count’.

Jan Lockyer, FaNs Programme Manager said, “We are really excited to see this campaign come to life. The generous help and extra resources that care homes can get from their local community is great, and the benefits are felt not only by the residents and the care home, but also by the volunteers themselves.”

The new volunteer movement is of national significance. Jan said, “FaNs is a movement that started in Essex, but has the potential to extend right throughout the country. It is about facilitating people who know how important it is to make every moment count, for both themselves and for the older people living in care homes, many of whom still have so much to offer us.”

The FaNs movement looks to make people aware of the little things that can make such a huge difference to the happiness and wellbeing of care home residents. Jan added, “There are approximately 405,000 older people in the UK living in care homes and 81% of older people believe talking and laughing with someone is the most important thing to them.”

The campaign invites anyone to become a FaN; an individual person who wants to volunteer some of their time to help a local care home, community groups such as theatres and choirs, scouting and guide groups, and organisations such as local businesses. There is no formal FaNs membership and no specific commitment required; volunteers can be as involved as they want to be.

Individuals and organisations taking an active interest in the well being of care home residents are known as “FaNs Ambassadors.” There are several ambassadors already on board with the FaNs campaign including Mackman, the Essex County Council, Colchester United Football Club, Essex University Students Union, and the Essex Fire and Rescue Service.

Matt Hudson, Media Manager at Colchester United Football Club said, “We are delighted to be a part of FaNs. Colchester United takes its commitment to its local community very seriously and so working with FaNs was something that made great sense to us.” He added, “We have already welcomed members of the FaNs network to games at the Weston Homes Community Stadium and we look forward to seeing more of them at matches in the future.”

Cllr Anne Brown, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Healthy Living said, “We are firmly committed to improving the quality of life for older people living in residential care in Essex and are delighted to be supporting the FaNs campaign. The council actively encourages care homes to engage and forge close links with their local communities, allowing them to benefit from the extra resources they can offer.”

“We acknowledge the benefits of working together in a positive, supportive and empowering way to help ensure the wellbeing of residents living in residential care, and the FaNs movement gives us an excellent opportunity to do this.”

Charity Age UK Essex, is also a FaNs Ambassador. Chief Executive Andrew Gardner said, “I see my friends regularly and talk to my neighbours all the time, helping out whenever I can – to me that’s just a part of living where I do. The work of FaNs is an extension of what all of us do in our daily lives and that’s why Age UK Essex support the work of FaNs.”

“It’s about helping people who live within our communities to feel as much a part of that community as everyone else. It doesn’t matter where someone calls home as long as they are happy.”

The campaign will also offer practical help and support to the owners, managers and staff of care homes to take advantage of the opportunities that FaNs can generate.

“The quality of the care home sector in the UK can be perceived in a negative light which often over shadows some of the brilliant work already going on in the area. The FaNs campaign is going to be a fantastic way to encourage more people to support our care homes but also, celebrate the success stories that do happen in the sector, specifically in Essex”, Jan said.

We have worked with My Home Life Essex to deliver the marketing for the campaign, creating the FaNs visual look and interactive website. Bruce Burgoyne, Creative Lead for the project said, “What resonates with people is real life, honest stories. We wanted to create a current and energetic design for the campaign, something that challenges the misconceptions that working with old people is dull and boring. We needed it to appeal and be accessible to several different audiences, inspiring and motivating them through others stories to get involved and make every moment count.”

Learn more about how we’ve helped FaNs by reading through our case study.