Tribute to Roger Keenan

Community Network and its current and past trustees were deeply saddened to learn of the death on 28th December 2013 of Roger Keenan.  Roger served as a highly-valued trustee of the charity between 2000 and 2010.  He was the first trustee to provide an in-depth technical awareness on the Board, in combination with an acute commercial sense – both so vital to the organisation.  It was his early success in personally building a very successful telephony-related business which led us to approach him about trusteeship.  He was a very great asset to Community Network.

His fellow trustees recall him as full of energy, ideas and enthusiasm – such a live wire, disseminating his energy in a wide arc.  His practical intelligence and his ability to see new angles on challenging situations for the charity were invaluable.  And his generosity of spirit, loyalty and good companionship were hallmarks of the friend and true colleague that he was to all of us.

Lonely this Christmas

Christmas is a time when many of us get together with friends and family. We eat food, watch repeats on TV and give each other gifts. It might not always be wonderful but generally we spend the day with people who care about us.

For some people however, Christmas is not fun, festive and full of love. They face spending what should be a happy time of the year alone. I was particularly struck by the story of James Gray, 85 who after spending a decade of Christmas days alone decided to put an advert in the paper asking for someone to share Christmas dinner with. This was picked up by the press and now James is receiving cards and has lots of offers for Christmas.

James is not alone in his situation. Age UK estimates that almost half a million over 65 year olds, will spend Christmas alone.  Loneliness is not just something that affects older people; it can hit anyone at any time during their lives and at Christmas the horrible feelings of loneliness can reach a peak.

It’s awful to think of people feeling this way but we’re not powerless. We can do something about it. We know that just having another person call or pop in can make a very real difference to someone who is feeling lonely. This Christmas, if you think someone you know might be feeling lonely then pick up the phone, take them some mince pies or even invite them to join you for Christmas dinner.  It could be the greatest gift you give this year.

Angela Cairns
Chief Executive

Telephone facilitation training courses

Community Network provides a comprehensive telephone facilitation training course. Our course is designed to help organisations and groups get the best from telephone conferencing.

The training is conducted over the phone in four one-hour sessions, which means the training is accessible from anywhere as long as you have a phone and a quiet space.

Session 1
Explores the role of the facilitator and the different elements of the role that a facilitator may use during the group sessions

Session 2
Explains how groups work and how they develop

Session 3
Concentrates on three of the core skills you will use as a facilitator listening, questioning and responding to difficult behaviour.

Session 4
Is very practical and will provide information on confidentiality, data protection and equal opportunities

Training Benefits
Each person on the course will get some facilitation practice to help build confidence and to be able to competently facilitate telephone groups. The sessions are easy going and enjoyable, but most importantly it has been designed to ensure that you get the maximum benefit from your telephone conference.

‘It was so good and I feel as though I want to use the techniques that I have been taught straight away’

‘I loved it, it was comprehensive , insightful, an eye-opener. I’m so excited to start our new group’

To find out more, contact Michelle Ballantyne, Deputy Chief Executive on 0207 923 5252 or emailing

Silver Circles – a partnership with The Silver Line

Many you may have heard talk of a new charity called The Silver Line set up by Esther Rantzen in response to her own experience of loneliness as an older person. Esther wrote an article about the loneliness and was struck by the responses she got from older people. This moved her to set up The Sliver Line, a helpline for older people.

The Silver Line is a simple idea, a single number 0800 328 8888 that older people can call for advice, information and friendship. The helpline has been running as pilot in the North West, North East, Isle of Man and Jersey and is to launch nationally in time for Christmas, when many people feel particularly alone.

I am excited to announce that Community Network will be working with The Silver Line in the coming months to run Silver Circles, telephone groups for callers to the helpline.  They will run alongside The Silver Line’s existing telephone befriending service offer older people yet another way to stay connected and active.