The issue of loneliness

More than 1.5 million people over 65 feel lonely “all or most of the time” in the UK, with many going for days or months without contact with friends or family. Millions more rely on TV or pets for company.

Chronic loneliness is harmful to both your physical and mental health raising the risk of developing dementia, heart disease and other conditions. It can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Modern life expectancies may be increasing, yet for too many, these later years remain blighted by loneliness and isolation. It shouldn’t have to be this way.

Who we are

We are a Community Interest Community, which means we are here to benefit the public.

Our mission

To alleviate loneliness and isolation for older adults through community connectivity.

Our vision

To create a world where anyone can make new friends, and no one needs to fear getting older.

What we do

We rebuild an older person’s close support group to empower them to live actively and well. The new friendships we create benefit both older people and the community.

Our Friendship Wheel approach

Friendship Wheels are social circles of like-minded friends created by matching one Member with up to three like-minded Buddies.

Cognitive Science studies show that groups of 3-5 people develop the closest emotional bonds. So that’s exactly how we rebuild an older person’s inner circle of friends.

We use a very human touch and personalized approach to carefully match people based on location, interests and personality. We make it fun and flexible for everyone!

Our values

Friendship
Connecting to Others
Fun
Respect
Compassion

BuddyHub is all about creating healthy and lasting friendships regardless of your background and who you are. We encourage friendships that make you smile and laugh: in other words, having fun together! Listening and approaching each other with respect, openness, empathy and compassion is also at the core of what we do.

That’s what it’s all about: making friends and enjoying each other’s company.

Our Team

Catherine McClen, Founder and CEO

Catherine may come from the hard-nosed world of finance but she has a way of understanding others and the difficulties they go through. She became a young carer when her mother developed early onset dementia and this really opened her eyes to the threat of loneliness. She has also felt the impact of mental health and multiple bereavements in her family. These experiences, together with her six years of extensive voluntary work with marginalised groups, inspired her to start BuddyHub in 2014. The vision? To create a world where we can all happily grow older.

Jamie van Dyke, CTO

Jamie is a highly accomplished software developer, infrastructure architect, trainer, and speaker. He has 20 years experience working with leading companies from startups to industry veterans, building web applications and infrastructure on varying platforms. He has worked with a diverse range of languages and frameworks and he is an enthusiast of Ruby, Ruby on Rails, AWS, and Kubernetes. In his spare time, Jamie has volunteered for the Community First Responders and set up his own business, helping those with addiction. He's also known to don his motorcycle gear and tootle out on the country roads from time to time with his biking buddies.

Gareth Simpson, Non-Executive Director

Gareth has 30 years experience in marketing and advertising in the UK and globally. He has worked with blue-chip companies and agencies such as P&G, HJ Heinz and Leo Burnett. In recent years, he has been using his skills to support smaller charities and social enterprises. Turning loneliness into happiness is a cause Gareth thinks is really worth fighting for, and it is particularly important to him because of the scale of the problem. Gareth brings his in-depth knowledge of how to take brands from local to national level and beyond to support our scaling plans.

Dr. Daniel Tilley, Principal Analytical Scientist and Data Advisor

Daniel has 20 years’ experience in the defence and security sectors. He has improved quantification of casualties for military operations, developed analytical capability to identify cyber-attacks and improved scientific communication through organising interest groups and conferences. Daniel holds Fellowships with the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and the Operational Research Society. Daniel is also an alumnus of the 'The Royal Academy of Engineering's: SME Leaders Programme'. We first met Daniel through the OR Society. He enjoyed working with us so much, trusting our approach to combating loneliness, that he became an Advisor.

Naailah Jummun, Connector

Naailah has a background in Biomedical sciences but realised working in a laboratory just wasn’t for her! After taking a gap year to come to terms with a bereavement in her family, Naailah volunteered extensively, including as a patient befriender on dementia wards. These experiences attracted her to working at BuddyHub where she is in charge of making the best matches for our Members and Buddies. Work aside, Mauritius has a special place in her heart as she spent a lot of her childhood soaking up the sun and going to the beach there.

Sofia Pelucio, Operations and Marketing

Sofia worked for us after completing an MA in marketing communications. She did such a great job we decided to hold on to her, even after she swapped London for Brazil. Sofia has a background in journalism and worked for five years on a pay TV channel. She has been heavily involved in all aspects of the onboarding process as well as CRM and data management, but her core focus is on marketing and making sure we are reaching our members. For Sofia, the joy of BuddyHub is being able to help others while also getting to grips with the startup sector.

Frequently asked questions

What is BuddyHub's Code of Conduct

BuddyHub does not tolerate threatening, aggressive, violent or abusive behaviour (examples include threats, physical violence, personal verbal abuse, derogatory remarks and rudeness, inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated allegations) towards its community including staff, Buddies or Members, whether in-person or over the phone.

If this code is breached, we reserve the right to review your involvement with us and take further action as we see fit.     

Which areas do you cover?

We currently operate in the London boroughs of Islington, Hackney, Haringey and City of London. We hope to be covering the whole of London soon. And going nationwide before long…  

What is BuddyHub’s social mission?

We create new friendships for older people to help them live well as they age. The core aim is to alleviate loneliness and isolation so these people feel more connected to their community. Loneliness is harmful to both physical and mental health. Did you know that up to five million older people say that TV or pets are their main form of company? We try to change this by giving each of our Members a new social circle of Buddies. These volunteers can also boost their sense of well-being as they are helping others whilst making new friends.  

How does BuddyHub differ to traditional befriending schemes?

We like to think we’re fresher and a little more nimble than the rest. Firstly, there’s our personalised platform, which makes onboarding and matching a doddle. Then there is the Friendship Wheel idea, which is a more flexible and fun way of volunteering than the usual one-to-one model. It's quite popular so maybe we’re on to something! 

Why do Members pay a monthly fee to join BuddyHub?

We are committed to building a sustainable social business to maximise the impact of our work over time. Ensuring BuddyHub has firm financial foundations and is not too reliant on scarce grant funding will enable us to keep the organisation running and to achieve our vision. 

We also know that older people do not wish to be patronised, all too common in our ageist society, or to be thought of as being in need of charity. Paying a membership fee empowers our Members as our customers and fits well with our core value of respect.

To be inclusive, we offer affordable membership fees that vary according to a Member’s ability to pay. The service fee can also be covered by a contract with a third party organisation.

Why isn’t BuddyHub free?

BuddyHub works on the same principle as charities who operate theatres and sell variable priced (but not free) tickets, some of which are heavily subsidised by Arts Council grants and supporter donations. This enables them to recover all the VAT on their costs. The Friendship Wheel service fees are VAT taxable. To enable us to recover all the VAT incurred on the associated costs of running the service, we cannot offer the service for free.

BuddyHub is able to offer subsidised fees to Members on a low income thanks to the generous donations of our Buddies and other supporters.

Why does BuddyHub need donations?

We want to reach as many people as possible and donations are vital to our impact and growth. That’s why we offer reduced membership fees for Members on means-tested benefits. But BuddyHub can only offer these if we raise the difference through donations from our community and other supporters. The more donations we receive, the more Friendship Wheels we can create for older people on lower incomes.

How do I give BuddyHub a compliment or leave a comment?

Compliments always brighten up our day! If you like our service and think we are doing something right, please write to us. We sincerely welcome and seek your comments in order to assist us in continually developing and improving our service. You can do that via:

  • Email: send a quick email to hello@buddyhub.co.uk with the subject “Comments for BuddyHub” or “Compliments for BuddyHub”.
  • Post: Write us a letter and send it to: BuddyHub, 18-20 London Lane, Hackney, London E8 3PR 

How do I make a complaint?

The complaint should be made either:

  • Via email: Send an email to hello@buddyhub.co.uk with the subject “Complaint for BuddyHub”.
  • Through the post: Write us a letter and send it to BuddyHub, 18-20 London Lane, Hackney, London E8 3PR
  • By telephone: 0203 6426871.

We will acknowledge, within ten working days, the receipt of any complaint.

If the complaint is about the BuddyHub Connector the complaint should be addressed to the CEO, Catherine McClen (marked ‘confidential’) through the post or by email: catherine@buddyhub.co.uk. At this, and any subsequent stage, the complainant may be accompanied or supported by a friend, but not a legal representative.

We will investigate the circumstances leading to the complaint and will communicate the results within a reasonable time – normally within 20 working days. If the complaint is found to be justified, the CEO will agree any necessary further action with the complainant. 

How do I contact BuddyHub?

Please feel free to contact us:

  • Via our contact form
  • By telephone: 0203 6426871
  • Through the post: BuddyHub, 18-20 London Lane, Hackney, London E8 3PR 

Is BuddyHub a company or charity?

We are a social enterprise C.I.C. (Community Interest Company), which means we exist to benefit the public first and foremost and we reinvest the majority of any profits to further our social mission.

Being a C.I.C. Ltd by Shares, rather than a charity, allows us to take on investment to grow our service. Traditional befriending services typically rely on grants or donations and, therefore, reach only a tiny fraction of people who could benefit from this service. 

We want to be the first national face to face befriending type service and reach as many people as possible. To get there, we need to further develop our technology platform to harness the power of digital efficiency and lower the cost of our service. We also need to increase our organisational capacity by adding staff. All this requires investment.