Small Acts of Friendship

Small Acts of Friendship is still working on the Elderly Care Wards, despite restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. We will be be operating SAF at full capacity as soon as it is safe to do so and are continuing to develop our plans to expand into Millview when this is possible: you can read about it below.

Please support your NHS and STAY AT HOME as much as possible. 




Small Acts of Friendship is a programme designed by Friends of Brighton & Hove Hospitals and the Elderly Care Team at the Royal Sussex County Hospital. Funded by the Friends to help elderly patients retain their sense of dignity and well being, patients have a better experience in hospital and find it easier to rejoin the community when they leave. Small Acts of Friendship is having a very positive effect on the patients, as our film, right, shows. 

In an article published in the July 2019 edition of OT News magazine, Paola O’Sullivan and Gemma Buckley explain how the introduction of activities on elderly acute wards has improved patients’ emotional and social wellbeing whilst in hospital. Full article here - first published by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists in Occupational Therapy News. 

After two years on the Elderly Care wards, Small Acts of Friendship has helped over 3,000 patients to maintain their dignity, mobility and well being through a range of activities from hairdressing and hand massage to poetry and music groups. This is provided by a team of 16 people, mostly volunteers, and is widely appreciated by patients and their families and the staff who care for them. It has contributed to the rating of patient care as outstanding in the latest hospital CQC report. In January 2019 Marianne Griffiths, Chief Executive of BSUH, paid tribute to Small Acts after a CQC report - video here.

During 2020, as well as continuing the valuable work we are already doing, we intend to extend Small Acts of Friendship to include end of life support. We will do this by providing Friends rooms - a private space for patients to end their lives with dignity and peace. We will also produce Friendship bags for the bereaved, giving them all the information they need to cope with their loss.

We also want to expand Small Acts of Friendship into the vital area of Mental Health at Mill View Hospital. We have already funded a garden and gym equipment and we plan to put in place a team of professionals and volunteers to help patients make the best use of this - from running keep fit classes to growing their own food.

You can help by giving us money directly, coming to events, getting involved in Friends activities or by volunteering. Whatever you can give makes Small Acts of Friendship possible. Thank you.

Can you donate money to support Small Acts of Friendship?

We are now looking to raise £40,000 to support Small Acts of Friendship in 2020 and 2021. Please give generously through our JustGiving campaign.

Can you donate time to support Small Acts of Friendship?

Small Acts of Friendship works with Voluntary Services at the Royal Sussex County Hospital to provide befriending provision on the elderly care wards. This could include sitting with patients to provide company, reading to patients or listening with empathy as they share their experiences. There is no personal care involved in this role. We usually ask volunteers to commit to one morning or afternoon shift per week and our volunteers either run or support activities for patients, including hand massage, poetry reading, hairdressing, music or art. You will have good interpersonal skills, a calm, friendly, compassionate nature and an interest in helping and supporting people. For details how to apply - see our volunteering page. 

Brighton and Sussex Medical School are involved in measuring the impact of Small Acts of Friendship so there will be credible research which can be shared with other Elderly Care teams.

This programme is making an enormous difference to the way in which we look after elderly people during their hospital stay.

BSUH Consultant Dr Muna Al-Jawad

I am delighted to support the Small Acts of Friendship project , and to see NHS Clinicians and the Friends of Brighton and Hove Hospitals bringing together so many parts of the community to create an improved quality of life to elderly people when they are in hospital.

Baroness Cumberlege

I am pleased to support this initiative. The elderly often find it particularly difficult when they are in hospital, and anything that makes their lives more normal, and allows them to retain their independence and dignity is to be welcomed.

Vice Admiral Sir Peter Woodhead KCB

This is a brilliant scheme and I am delighted to support it. Looking after older people is becoming an increasingly large part of the work of the hospitals in Brighton, and in the country generally. Initiatives like this will undoubtedly improve the care and treatment elderly patients receive, as well as providing some valuable learning that can be shared with anyone in this field.

Professor Jon Cohen, Emeritus Professor of Infectious Diseases, Brighton & Sussex Medical School President, International Society for Infectious Diseases

I welcome Small Acts of Friendship as an initiative to support elderly patients in our local hospitals. With opportunities for social activities, a little pampering and a focus on maintaining mobility we are sure people will benefit in many ways and be able to return more quickly to their community. You can help by making a donation via this website.

Sally Gunnell, OBE DL

A big thank you from Jowers Ward for our TV with built in DVD player. We have been able to have film afternoons and keep patients entertained.

Karen Lee, Ward Manager, Jowers Ward (Elderly Medicine), Royal Sussex County Hospital

Friends Office

37 St George's Road
Brighton BN2 1ED

T: 01273 66 4936

Email the Friends office


Friends Fundraiser

Email Katy Wells


Friends Shop

The Friends shop in St James's Street in Kemp Town is closed following national advice during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please do not leave donations outside the shop. 


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