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British Red Cross launches expanded service to help people remain independent at home

13 July 2015

British Red Cross launches expanded service to help people remain safe and independent at home after a crisis.

Portsmouth people facing a crisis such as illness or bereavement will benefit from an expanded British Red Cross service helping them remain independent in their own homes.

On 1 July  the Red Cross launched the new Portsmouth support at home service, jointly funded through Portsmouth City Council and NHS Portsmouth CCG's Better Care programme.

We are looking for more volunteers to join the team and make a real difference to people in the city.

Volunteers provide short-term targeted support immediately after a hospital stay. They also help prevent people from going to hospital unnecessarily. 

The help is tailored to the goals of individuals.  

A support at home volunteer might check that someone is warm, safe and has food in the house after a return home from hospital. Or, through regular visits, they could help someone regain the confidence to do everyday activities like go shopping.

Through a new partnership with Age UK Portsmouth and Learning Links, the service also provides:

  • cleaning, shopping and laundry services
  • help with picking up pensions, and
  • advocacy support to help people address health and social care problems that might be affecting their well-being.

Theresa Allen, 82, from Milton, Southsea, can vouch for the difference the service makes.

She was recently helped by the Red Cross and Age UK Portsmouth after spending a month in hospital in Southampton and Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, following heart surgery this April.While she initially stayed with her daughter, Theresa was keen to return home and regain her independence as soon as possible. Because her family doesn’t live locally, her daughter got in touch to ask for some support.

Luke Godfrey, who has been a service assistant with the Red Cross for the past six months, visited her.

Theresa said: “I had someone from Age UK to help me do my cleaning and Luke from the Red Cross came to see me every week, to walk with me. It may sound like a trivial thing, but when I came home on my own, the idea of going to the shops was actually a bit scary.

"Perhaps because I’d been in hospital for so long, I found my legs wouldn't obey me, so I was lucky to have Luke to give me the confidence to know that if I did stumble, I would be okay.

“You think of all the wonderful things the Red Cross does, like helping people when there are floods, but you don’t think of someone like me who would just have been afraid to go out. Their help was very beneficial.”

After four weeks of support from Luke, Theresa has now regained the confidence to go shopping on her own and is meeting new people via two local community groups he introduced her to. She said:

“Luke made me feel at ease from the beginning. It was like going out with one of my sons. And the groups that Luke has introduced me to mean I’m going to find a whole load of new friends.”

Luke said; “I’ve always been interested in supporting people in crisis and I think the fact that I volunteered for other organisations, including the Samaritans, helped me get the job at the Red Cross.

"This job is all about helping people to accomplish their own goals and it’s so satisfying to see someone like Theresa having the confidence to be independent again at the end of it.”

Kathy Laughlin, service manager for independent living at the Red Cross, said: “Aside from being fully trained and having the capacity to deal with many different needs, the staff and volunteers in our team are really kind, dedicated, patient and considerate people who enjoy looking out for others and helping them live a better life. I would encourage anyone who’s interested in joining us to get in touch.”

Jo York, Head of Better Care, said: "The voluntary sector in Portsmouth does an excellent job of running services in specialist areas so I am delighted that through £400,000 of joined up Better Care funding over two years, we have secured the support at home service to benefit local residents. This work in the community is vital to helping people stay well and independent rather than falling into a cycle of hospital stays."

  • The service is available on a short-term basis to Portsmouth residents living in postcodes PO1 to PO6. Referrals are accepted from health and care professionals in hospital and the community and people can also request a referral for themselves or a relative via their GP.
  • The Portsmouth support at home service is offered daily from 10am - 6pm. 
  • To become a volunteer, please contact us on 023 9289 4202 or
  • For additional information about the new service, please contact Kathy Laughlin


Notes to editor

1. Service cost

The Support at Home Service, a partnership between the Red Cross, Age UK Portsmouth and Learning Links, is funded at £199,891 funding a year for 2 years as part of Portsmouth's Better Care Fund. 

2. Portsmouth Better Care 

Portsmouth City Council and NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who are working together with NHS providers (Solent NHS Trust and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust) and the voluntary and community sector to deliver Portsmouth's Better Care Plan. This plan was approved by NHS England in October 2014 and is available on by searching for 'better care'. A shared local budget of £16.8M has been committed between the organisations in the financial year in 2015/16, using existing funding in a joined up way.

The Better Care Fund is a national programme designed to better integrate health and social care services, so more people are supported to stay healthy and live independently, reducing the demand on acute NHS services like hospital emergency departments. Traditionally, health and social care services have been organised, funded, and delivered separately. The initial focus of our local Better Care plan is on health and social care services for frail older people and other adults with complex needs. Patients, social care service users, and families and carers, are all being consulted and involved in the development of services

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