FiSH into a new millenium

Eventually in 2001, following discussions between Michael Butler of Sheen FiSH and Veronica in Barnes, the two strands of FiSH amalgamated as one organisation covering the three areas of Barnes, Mortlake and East Sheen. The merger resulted in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames agreeing to provide a grant for the salary costs of a part-time coordinator. Jenny Hughes was appointed as the new Coordinator, the first time the organisation had taken on paid staff, and as her first task she worked on setting up a new office from scratch in lean-to annex as part of the Castelnau Community Centre in Stillingfleet Road Barnes.

Thus Jenny started a new era for FiSH with just one table, one chair and no telephone.

Now with a proper base, FiSH was able to start to add to the services it provided for the community. Veronica became Chair of FiSH from 2001 until 2006 and was then invited to Chair Age UK Richmond. During this time FiSH was joined by the transport charity Richmond and Kingston Accessible Transport (RaKAT). FiSH could hire buses from RaKAT and use trained volunteer drivers to take FiSH members on occasional outings and group shopping expeditions. Around this time, FiSH ’n’ Chats, a pioneering experiment in social listening, was launched and proved extremely successful.

At the same time, AgeUK Richmond took over the management of the social centre on the ground floor of the Barnes Green Centre and in 2004 FiSH moved into the office space on the first floor of maintaining an independent presence in the Centre. Since then FiSH and AGE UK have sustained a close partnership, and links have been forged with other voluntary organisations in the borough to provide a more integrated service for older people.