On the podium; Jan Williams from Age UK, Sophie Timms, Head of UK Government and Industry Affairs and Corporate Responsibility and Jane Boulton, Programme Manager, Zurich Community Trust receive the award from David Picton, Chief Sustainability Officer, Carillion.

Zurich wins award for project tackling loneliness amongst older people

9 March 2015:  Leading insurer Zurich has won ‘Best Community Development Project – Large Organisations’ at the inaugural Corporate Social Responsibility Awards in London today for its Call in Time programme.

The award recognises the Zurich Community Trust’s partnership with Age UK to provide the ‘Call in Time’ telephone befriending service for older people. Zurich Community Trust (ZCT) is the charitable arm of leading insurer Zurich in the UK.  Call in Time was initiated 10 years ago when ZCT reviewed its Older People Programme, which focussed on tackling a wide range of issues faced by the UK’s ageing population. 

One of the projects funded telephone support and advice for older people, pairing Zurich employee volunteers with isolated older people for a regular friendly chat. Following the success of this initiative, which was rewarding for both volunteers and older people alike, ZCT decided to grow and develop the model by working with Age UK.

Sophie Timms, Zurich's head of UK Government and Industry Affairs and Corporate Responsibility said: “Community investment is central to Zurich's corporate responsibility programme, and we're very proud of ZCT's partnership with Age UK on their Call in Time programme, and of our employee volunteers who make such a difference". 

Head of ZCT Pam Webb added: "We are delighted that this innovative and sustainable programme has been recognised with this award.   It's been a privilege to help our partners, Age UK, replicate the programme with other companies, and we're very proud of the positive difference employee volunteers are making to the lives of isolated older people."

“The award recognises both Zurich Insurance and the Zurich Community Trust - ZCT for funding the development of the Call in Time over the last 10 years in partnership with Age UK, and Zurich overall for supporting around 100 employee volunteers every year to take part in the programme during working hours.

”Our aim was to develop the programme, using Zurich volunteers to call isolated people during work time from their desks, to a point where the programme would be easy to replicate with other organisations, giving it maximum impact," said Mrs Webb. "There are now 12 ‘Call in Time’ corporate partners, exceeding our initial ambition to help Age UK enlist 10 partners to provide the necessary sustainability for the programme.”

More than 100 Zurich employees were recruited, trained and supported as volunteer callers in the pilot phase of the programme which ran from 2005-2008.  All of these volunteers spent 20-30 minutes on the phone to their older friends once or twice a week.  Since then Zurich has maintained around 100 volunteers making weekly calls to their friends, some for years, becoming close friends as a result.

Since Call in Time began, more than 2000 isolated older people have been supported through the scheme across the UK.  In 2014, the programme reached the milestone of supporting 1000 older people throughout the year, a growth of 100% in two years.

“Volunteers benefit by learning a new skill and the enjoyment and fulfilment of being there for an older person, many of whom have nobody else contacting them regularly," said Mrs Webb. "Almost 9 out of 10 volunteers plan to continue with the programme in 12 months’ time so it’s working wonderfully.”

Lucy Hastings,Programme Director at Age UK, said she was delighted with the award. "Thanks to the Trust’s support over the past decade, Age UK has been able to provide many older people who are feeling lonely with a regular friendly phone call, which really make a difference and provides a real lifeline for isolated older people. We're hugely grateful for their support.” 

Due to the success of the project, Age UK was able to seek additional funding to develop infrastructure for future growth.  For every company that signs up to join Call in Time between March 2014 and March 2015, the Cabinet Office will match the effort by donating an additional £10,000 to Age UK, up to a maximum of £100,000.

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For further information please contact Maria Wyatt, Media Relations Manager, Zurich on m: 07875 887282 e: maria.wyatt@uk.zurich.com