Welcome to our Annual Report for 2016. Although I am sad that this year marks the end of my eight years as Chair, I am absolutely delighted that we have completely modernised the charity over this period. And I am glad we have managed to do so while continuing to honour our commitments to those we were supporting financially at the start.
It is incredible to think that the charity has transformed from being rather specialised and small into one that, in 2016, helped over 1 million people. One of the most salient factors for me in this was joining forces with Counsel and Care in 2011.
This enabled us to develop and grow our expertise in information and advice and, on the back of this, expand our policy and campaigning work, which continues to be very successful.
Much of our terrific growth over the past year has been thanks to investment in our online audience, resulting in a surge of interest in our public information. This reveals a genuine hunger for good, independent information and advice for older people and their families, and we are so pleased to be seeing a positive impact through this work.
I am also pleased to see that we are now expanding our friendship services, developing and piloting new ways to help older people connect with others. These services really do make all the difference. One particularly isolated 88-year-old recently told us that her two, relatively new, Independent Age volunteers already feel like an “extended family”.
This is incredibly heartening and I would like to finish by sincerely thanking our dedicated Trustees, staff, volunteers and supporters for everything you are doing. Special thanks go to Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Tudor Trust, John Ellerman Foundation, Esmèe Fairbairn Foundation and the Big Lottery Fund, who have funded various areas of our work, including the Campaign to End Loneliness.
As I leave, I am sure that the future direction will continue to focus outwards, on helping many more older people and families facing difficult circumstances. I look forward to seeing all the great achievements to come.
Dame Diana Brittan