Third Sector Awards 2017: Breakthrough of the Year - Age UK

Third Sector Promotion Markel

This award is an opportunity to showcase something new or different. Areas could include supporter and/or donor engagement, extending the reach of the charity or introducing a new way of working

What is the project?

Age UK’s Call In Time service aims to tackle loneliness, allowing volunteers to sign up online to make weekly calls to older people. In the past the charity matched volunteers with older people and scheduled calls manually, which was a huge amount of work. The charity has now automated the process, saving time and money. 

How is the project delivered

The project combines digital technology with micro-volunteering. Age UK’s website checks and matches volunteers with older people with shared interests. Once a week, at a time that suits, the system automatically places a call to both parties. A training toolkit helps volunteers to deal with common issues and difficult conversations. The call-connection technology means numbers are never shared, keeping the relationship safe. Calls are recorded for safeguarding, and will soon be transcribed and scanned by a machine-learning algorithm to spot early signs of risk.

How effective has it been?

The charity has signed up more than 2,600 new volunteers without having to increase the size of the Age UK team. The campaign was so successful that Age UK had to pause new volunteer applications to bring more older people into the service.

What did the judges say?

"It’s a really exciting project, combining the use of new technology and new concepts such as micro-volunteering to support older people," said Vicky McDermott, who was chief executive of the Papworth Trust until August. 

Highly commended

Working Chance


Affordable Justice

Amnesty International UK


Older people

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