Tue 04 / 05 / 21
“During the pandemic we seized the moment and delivered something supersized!” Jo Crease, CEO of Brighton based loneliness charity Together Co, shares her vision for a more connected future.
Lauren Psyk writes after April's Chamber Breakfast, with CEO of Together Co, Jo Crease. She talked about adapting their services to meet the demand of the pandemic, working with the Tackling Loneliness Network and how your business can help to be part of the solution.
By Lauren Psyk
As CEO of Together Co, an award-winning loneliness and isolation charity, Jo Crease creates connections between people in Brighton and beyond. For the last 20 years, the charity has been supporting people through its befriending, social prescribing and volunteering services. At April’s Chamber Breakfast, Jo shared the charity’s Covid response, and her ideas for improving the city’s response to loneliness as we rebuild.
You saw a huge increase in demand for your services during the coronavirus pandemic. Talk us through what happened and how you adapted?
“We had recently been through a re-brand and we expected 2020 to be a period of steady adjustment. How wrong we were! Once we realised the gravity of the situation we were quick to seize the moment. Demand for our services skyrocketed - it was 700% up on the previous year. We found ourselves at the heart of a situation where loneliness is one of the key features. So we said to ourselves: “This is exactly why we’re here! Let’s do this!” We recruited a huge number of new volunteers and we carried on with our usual offering as much as we could - it was just supersized and remote!”
You’re passionate about a grass-roots, bottom-up approach to community work. Why is it so powerful?
“I believe in cooperation and togetherness, and I’ve always found it hugely rewarding to facilitate community work in this way. Communities don’t appreciate being dictated to - they want to be involved in the decisions that affect them. When I worked in Westminster as a policy lead for local Government on how charities can work together, I experienced the polar opposite in terms of culture and approach - it was hierarchical, slow and rigid. I’m definitely more suited to a community-based approach where decisions and action can happen much more quickly.”
You were invited to report to the Government about how to tackle loneliness locally. What were some of your key recommendations?
“I was invited to join the Tackling Loneliness Network. The crucial recommendation I made was that there has to be a local approach to the problem of loneliness. Local communities have the best insight into how to deal with it, and can work together on a local loneliness plan.”
How can businesses be part of the solution to loneliness in Brighton?
“7.6% of people in Brighton in Hove say they’re often lonely. That’s 27,000 people. Sadly we haven’t got the resources to work with all of these individuals, so I think business has a huge part to play. Businesses - especially in Brighton - are firmly rooted in their communities and can contribute to a connected recovery as we come out of the pandemic. Connections have to be at the heart of how we rebuild. I think most people have been helping more in their communities over the past year and have seen how powerful and how essential it is. So we all need to ask ourselves what we can do to ensure we build back better. How can each of us be a part of it?”
With big thanks to Lauren Psyk for another fantastic write-up of the Chamber's April Breakfast Session.
Lauren Psyk brings personal brands to life with words and pictures. As a headshot photographer and copywriter, she helps entrepreneurs, founders and individuals to tell a consistent brand story.
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