Time & Talents keep people in touch

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IMAGE: Time & Talents has shifted its focus over its 136-year-history, but the principle of bringing people of different backgrounds and ages together remains at its core

Almost one in four people in the UK has some kind of disability. UK Disability History Month, running until Saturday 16 December, provides a platform to focus on the history of the struggle for equality and human rights for people living with disabilities.

In the second of our series shining a light on local organisations we proudly work with, we take a look at Time & Talents. They’re based in the historic Old Mortuary building on St Marychurch Street, with a second space, T&T2, provided for them by British Land in Surrey Quays Shopping Centre. Like the nearby Bede House, Time & Talents has its origins in the Victorian settlement movement. It was set up in 1887 with the goal of helping girls of education and leisure use their ‘time and talents’ in the service of others. Many of the elderly people the charity works with have memories of the organisation from when they were children, playing in the roof garden in their old buildings down by the docks or learning to sew or read.

The introduction of the welfare state after the Second World War led Time & Talents to shift the focus of its efforts. From the 1940s to the 2010s, the organisation focused on helping older people, adding services for children and families from 2018.

Time & Talents’ work with older people includes targeted support for those with dementia or other diagnosed memory issues, and they run groups for stroke survivors and people living with visual impairment. They offer a door-to-door minibus service for their groups, with getting people out of their houses and interacting socially being one of the main goals.

Their 'Ruby Tuesdays' group for people with dementia or memory impairment aims to provide the consistent, regular social space that plays an important role in building connections and community. As one participant said, “meeting everyone and seeing the same people each week, it’s peaceful.”

Having been heavily focused on mental health and wellbeing from the 1990s to 2010s, before moving into emergency food support when Covid hit, Time & Talents has emerged from the pandemic with a holistic, all-ages community approach. One person who participates said: “I think that older people do face loneliness, so groups that include all ages are important.”    

People are referred to Time & Talents’ memory issues, stroke and visual impairment groups by GPs and social providers. For information on how to get referred, people can contact Time & Talents at [email protected], or for general enquires try [email protected]

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