Winter Friends pledge FAQs

Thinking of signing the NHS Choices Winter Friends pledge to look in on an older friend or neighbour this winter? Already signed and wondering what to do next? Here are answers to some of the common questions people have about the pledge.

Sign the NHS Winter Friends pledge (Goes to external site)

How do I find someone who needs help?

If you have a neighbour who you think might need some help but you don't know them very well, why not take this opportunity to call in on them? There are lots of benefits to being part of a close-knit community and knowing your neighbours even if they don't need any help.

There are also more formal ways you can go about helping an older person through a charity or local volunteer group.

The following organisations are all involved in helping older people and have opportunities for volunteers.  

You can find more information about these organisations and the types of volunteering roles that are available in How to help a lonely older person.

You could also contact your nearest Volunteer Centre who should be able to tell you about volunteering opportunities in your local area. To find your nearest Volunteer Centre, use this search tool on Volunteering England's website.

Do you have any tips on how to help an older person?

Our article on 10 ways to be a winter friend offers practical suggestions on how you can make a difference.

What if the person I’m looking in on needs medical help?

You can call NHS 111 at any time of the day or night for health advice and information.

You can also call the person’s GP for advice or to make an appointment.

What if the person needs more support than I can give?

If the person you’re looking in on needs help with daily living, you may want to talk to them about getting more help. You can call their local authority’s adult social services department and ask them to carry out a community care assessment. They are obliged to do so.

Find their local authority on GOV.UK.

Find out more about social care.

Why does the pledge say “only if 100,000 other people will join me”?

This is the format of all pledges on the Pledgebank website that is being used to make the pledge available online. We want to get as many people as possible to sign up, and if 100,000 people help a friend or neighbour it could make a real difference. The important thing is that people act on their pledges and look out for their friends and neighbours this winter. We'll be doing all we can to support you.

Who can I call for more advice?

  • The Carers Direct helpline (0300 123 1053) provides confidential information and advice on any aspect of looking after someone.
  • Age UK’s local groups can provide information, advice and a range of other services.
  • Carers Trust local services provide information and support for carers.
  • The Citizens Advice Adviceguide website provides answers to a lot of common questions as well as contacts for local Citizens Advice Bureaux.

What other services are available to support older people?

The Silver Line (0800 4 70 80 90) offers free, confidential advice, information and friendship to older people.


Page last reviewed: 26/11/2013

Next review due: 26/11/2014


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The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

resihare said on 23 December 2013

I'm sorry, this makes me laugh.

I look in on my 91 year old aunt who has had 2 hip and 2 knee replacements in the last couple of years.

Regarding the last one, we took her to hospital and the NHS wanted to discharge her as they said there was nothing wrong with her. We refused to take her home so they did some more tests and found her hip was broken, so she then needed a new hip.

They then discharged her too early despite us voicing our reservations to several members of staff. She fell about 2 hours after getting home and broke her arm in 4 places.

She's home now after spending around 5 months in hospital, but her arm will never be right as the breaks have healed so badly.

This pledge drive smacks of the NHS wanting people to do their job for them yet again. They want to get people out of hospital with no care package and have a neighbour 'pledge' to check on them.

People shouldn't need to sign a pledge before they look in on elderly relatives or neighbours, it should be a natural reaction.

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Charles Linskaill said on 29 November 2013

I'll just keep in touch with a couple of vulnerable neighbours, and ask them if they need any shopping when I go shopping, it's not a problem for me to add my elderly neighbours shopping in to my shopping trolley, I think you can learn a lot about how your neighbour is keeping, by just being friendly, and asking them how their doing a few times a week.

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Eulalie said on 29 November 2013

I am a retired, state registered nurse and applied to do some administrative/advice work for Age UK some 2 months ago and their policy is, because they help vulnerable people, to get a DBS clearance for their volunteers. I have been waiting over 6 weeks for mine to come through.
Furthermore, every job advertised with nhs jobs requires an enhanced CRB check.
The winter friends scheme invites the general public to "pop in" to see elderly(vulnerable) people, check their heating and collect their prescriptions if necessary.
Is this not contradictory? If people are willing to help others altruistically (and because we all may need help ourselves one day) why should one set of rules apply in one situation and what amounts to no rules in another i.e this winter friends scheme?

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