Friends of the Elderly
Friends of the Elderly was half-way through a five-year organisational strategy but was determined to embed climate change issues into its ongoing work instead of waiting for the next strategic planning round.
About the organisation
Friends of the Elderly helps older people with accommodation and care, providing practical, caring support in both residential settings and in people’s own homes. It owns 14 care homes, runs a range of community services and provides grants to individuals. In 2007, its income was £14 million.
Before the project, Friends of the Elderly already had an environmental policy covering energy and water use and recycling. It is also planning construction of an environmentally friendly new build. The organisation’s work in this area was partly driven by public sector service commissioning processes, which requires some demonstration of environmental performance.
Friends of the Elderly was already involved in another project, exploring the understanding and attitudes of people aged 75 and over towards energy use, particularly their response to potentially conflicting messages about the need to reduce energy consumption but also keep warm.
What the project group did
The working group, which included the chief executive, property director and fundraising director, identified four major areas of concern that climate change is likely to present for the organisation:
- health impacts on beneficiaries, particularly heat stress
- the additional threat to older people of emergencies such as floods
- cost of living increases
- future legislation.
These findings were presented to the trustee board to inform their work.
Friends of the Elderly is currently in the middle of a five year strategic plan but intends to incorporate climate change factors into its next strategy. In the meantime, it’s able to embed its new knowledge into its ongoing work such as contingency planning and property management, and is making sure the understanding of the topic is shared across the organisation.
It has chosen to focus on operational issues for the time-being, to make sure that business continuity can be maintained. The project team feel confident that the organisation is already well attuned to the needs of its beneficiaries and will be able to respond to new climate-related needs as they appear.
It's also keen to play a part - with support - to lobby for incentives to make it easier for all those in its specialist field to act sustainably and to prepare for climate change.
Creating the time for climate change
The main benefit of the project for Friends of the Elderly has been raising awareness at senior level internally. As Richard Furze, chief executive, says “We just wouldn’t have felt we had the time to engage with this issue without the project. Now there’s a desire at senior level to move forward”.
Struggles with bureaucracy and funding
The organisation is keen to do as much as it can on climate change, but is frustrated by the lack of funding opportunities to help support action and by other obstacles in its way. For example, although the charity is providing homes for its service users, it is charged business rates for residents' recycling.
Advice and support
- Funding and finance
- Coping with cuts
- Addressing needs
- Managing change
- Planning for the future
- Involving people
- Public Service Delivery
- Governance and leadership
- Compact Advocacy programme
- Campaigning and influencing policy
- Collaborative working
- ICT (information and communication technology)
- Climate change
- People, HR and employment