Friends on the River is all about fighting loneliness.
My wife and I started the project to take action to help people we know who suffer from loneliness.
History & Context
Loneliness is a much under reported problem which affects the most vulnerable in our society. We want to help people of all ages but it is especially noticeable in the elderly, with over 50% of people over 75 now living alone.
To reach people who are lonely and to help them engage with others, we are building a Canal Boat where they can join us for good food, companionship with others, various activities and trips on the water.
The project began last year and following months of research and deliberation, a large amount of time and effort not to mention money later, it came as a fairly hefty and unpleasant surprise to be casually informed that our long established and highly recommended boat builder had decided to stop building boats and asked if we would we be kind enough to take our deposit back and go away!
We decided the project was more important than the disappointment, so we began again from the beginning. Eventually, by virtue of the fact we visited many canal side boat sheds and didn't give up, we took advice from those who deserved listening to and increased our own knowledge on the way, we eventually discovered people we could work with and who wanted to work with us. It cost us 12 months and the price of everything went up (of course) but the project was finally back on track.
Then, one day while discussing the boat (as usual) a friend asked if we had considered starting a crowdfunding appeal as Friends on the River is such a good cause. The whole point was doing something to help people immediately and if we can do that sooner, so much the better. We have since learned about Crowdfunding and realised what an amazing thing it is, so here we are.
The Project & Costs so far.
The boat will be built from scratch. We have invested £32,000 of our own money in the project so far and during the initial construction of the vessel we will invest another £38,000. We are looking to raise some more money to complete the project.
We have had expressions of interest from organisations and individuals who are prepared to give their time and skills to help us bring the project to life. We have created a website where anyone can follow the development of the boat, ask questions and volunteer their time, skills or assistance with any aspect of the project.
We are hoping the crowdfunding will raise an additional £40,000 to complete all of our plans and help us to engage with as many people as possible.
We intend to provide a place for people to socialise with others, we will provide the food and activities and, of course, trips on the water. We have access to people who are keen to give their time to teach others in subjects such as painting, craft work, dancing, cooking and other skills.
We are not creating a charity, which puts some people off because they are not a 'charity case'. Neither is it a commercial enterprise to make money. 'Friends on the River' is our private project to help people with direct action, no red tape or bureaucracy it’s just about people helping people.
All the activities and meals on the boat will be provided without charge. Everything will support our primary purpose, which is to engage with people suffering from loneliness.
All of our guests will have an opportunity for interaction with each other and our intention is that lasting friendships will develop. We hope they will create connections with each other and friendships which will exist outside of our project and ultimately change their lives and remove loneliness on a permanent basis.
We appreciate any help you can give and everything donated will go to improving the lives of people who are experiencing the pain of loneliness.