Fulfilled living in later life

All about our ACE Programme

We’re on a mission to ensure everyone who lives with us can live later life to the full. A big part of how we do this is through our Activities and Community Engagement (ACE) Programme

How it works

Each of our homes has an Activities and Community Engagement Facilitator, known as an ACE Facilitator or simply an ACE. Each ACE brings their own skills, talents and personality to the role – there’s no one-size-fits-all – but what unites them all is they are Christian and therefore dedicated to enriching every aspect of our family members’ lives, including spiritually.

Our ACEs oversee a varied programme of activities, featuring everything from daily devotions to games and crafts or trips out. At the heart of our The Way We Care approach care is a commitment to seeing every person who lives with us an individual, uniquely made by God with their own needs and interests. Our ACEs therefore take time to listen to family members and respond to their thoughts and preferences, taking these into consideration as they plan the life of the home.

Pilgrims Friend Shottermill House ACE1


Of course, it’s a big job and our ACEs don’t do it alone. As well as working with staff colleagues, a major part of their role is to bring in volunteers. Volunteers contribute to the home in a host of different ways among them: leading devotions and services; playing the piano; supporting activities; running prayer meetings; helping out at events and trips out or simply being there to visit and be a friendly face.

Many of our wonderful volunteers come from local churches where ACEs actively seek to build links. Having Christian volunteers is invaluable in ensuring that older people continue to have connection and fellowship with their wider spiritual family.

Volunteers come to us from all backgrounds and for lots of different reasons.

Pilgrims Friend Milward House volunteer speaker

For example, we welcome in those working towards the Duke of Edinburgh Award or those looking to gain work experience while considering a career in social care or a field like medicine or midwifery. Sometimes people come to us simply because they love spending time with older people and being part of the home. Everyone is welcome!

Local community links

But it doesn’t stop there. We know connections with people of all ages and stages from across the local community are so important for those who live with us. Living in a care home shouldn’t mean losing contact with the rest of the world. And in fact, in many ways our care homes are uniquely placed to be places of connection, and our ACEs are the people who can make those connections happen.

From schools to Scout troops, from pre-school groups to pet therapy providers, we welcome everyone through our doors. Some may visit regularly; others may pop in to help mark different seasons or special days. Events like our summer and Christmas fairs are opportunities for members of the wider community to drop in and find out a little more about the care home on their doorstep.

Pilgrims Friend ACE Community1
Pilgrims Friend ACE Community2
Pilgrims Friend ACE Community6
Pilgrims Friend ACE Community5
ACE Volunteering Images
Pilgrims Friend ACE Community3

If you want to see a little more of what our ACEs get up to, an excellent place to look are our homes’ Facebook pages, which our ACEs oversee. (To find a care home's Facebook page, search for it on Facebook by name.) Our ACEs also put together newsletters for our homes – details of how to sign up here.

As our ACE Programme evolves, we’d love our ACEs to be increasingly making connections with older people who live in their local communities, perhaps welcoming in those who would benefit from attending a dementia café. Things are happening, so watch this space!

Sound good?

If you’re interested in volunteering with us, are a local community group or school or who would like to visit a local care home, or just want to connect generally, our ACEs would love to hear from you. The best way to do this would be through filling in the form for your local home on our volunteer page.

To help you put a face to the name and find out little bit more about them, here’s a gallery of our brilliant ACE Team!

Our ACE Team

Barbara Mackenzie

Barbara Mackenzie

Activities & Community Engagement (ACE) Facilitator - Evington Home, Leicester

Read moreless about Barbara

Barbara moved from South Africa to Leicester nearly three years ago. The first position she applied for was at Pilgrims’ Friend Society and she started at Evington Home as a carer, later working as a senior carer as well when needed. She has always been involved in various aspects of her home church including with the Christian radio station Cape Community FM (CCFM), as a Sunday school teacher and youth club and youth music leader. She has also enjoyed being a leader and organiser at church camps and working with older people in the church.

Barbara has done mission work with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) around South Africa and in Madagascar. She studied at George Whitefield College (Church of England) where she did a year in theology. Barbara felt the Lord leading her into the ACE Facilitator position to take care of the ministry in the home and to bring all she can offer to the home and greater community.

She worships with her husband at Arnesby Baptist Church.

Dave Alderson

Dave Alderson

Activities & Community Engagement (ACE) Facilitator - Framland, Wantage

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Dave is a proud Yorkshire man who travelled the world but found Jesus in Norwich at a Billy Graham event. Having started his working life as an artist and graphic designer, he was called into Christian ministry at the age of 21. Dave describes himself as a genuinely shy man who God put on the frontline of service. Roles he has taken on have included Christian Youth Work with YFC, Youth Pastor & Evangelist, Drug & Alcohol Treatment Worker, Youth Advisor and Toilet-roll Maker.

As our Activities & Community Engagement (ACE) Facilitator at Framland, Dave oversees the programme of activities, which includes managing the team of volunteers. He loves working with older people, especially hearing the stories of the amazing lives they have lived.

By his own admission he is someone you will not find on a sports field but rather in the warmth, playing his guitar or reading a book.

A proud father of four and grandfather of 10, he, together with his wife, enjoys the adventure of all that life and world has to reveal.

Deborah Callewaert

Deborah Callewaert

Activities & Community Engagement (ACE) Facilitator - Shottermill House, Haslemere

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I started working at Shottermill House in August 2021. I returned to the UK at the end of 2020 as my husband and I felt it was the right time to move back to help our family, having lived in Belgium for 20 years. I worked in metal work, administration and finally ran a childcare facility.

In Belgium I had a busy church life, leading a women’s group and a youth group and participating in the music group with percussion and singing.

As a child I was always drawn to older people – my parents ran a church in Tamworth and encouraged visiting the elderly. For one lady it was to thread needles for her and as an adult I realise that I was keeping her company rather than helping her with her needlework. I believe that God had put me in training to work with more mature members of our society from an early age!

I am delighted that there was a job for me at Shottermill House. I enjoy encouraging people to volunteer and make the monthly activity list, but most of all I love looking for new things to enrich the lives of those living here. I am looking forward to engaging with more churches and with the local community.

Ruth Mockler

Ruth Mockler

Activities & Community Engagement (ACE) Facilitator - Luff House, Walton-on-the-Naze

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Ruth has supported various service users within the care sector throughout her working life; children and families, adults in the community, the elderly, and palliative care in adult and children’s hospices.

Her role here is to oversee all activities provided for our family members, liaising with volunteers, staff and outside agencies to make sure activities reflect the different needs of those living here and giving particular attention to our Christian values and model of care.

Ruth previously worked here as a hummingbird and is pleased to be back in this new role.

Sarah Whelan-McCrea

Sarah Whelan-McCrea

Activities and Community Engagement (ACE) Facilitator - Koinonia Christian Care Home, Worthing

Read moreless about Sarah

Sarah joined Koinonia in November 2022 as a Hummingbird and in March 2023 she started her new role as Activities and Community Engagement Facilitator. Sarah has always been a Christian and has undertaken many different roles in her church life, from junior church to fundraising and organising events.

She enjoys working and spending time with the family members in Koinonia and working with local churches and engaging with the local community to enhance the spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing of the Koinonia family.

In her spare time Sarah enjoys spending time with her family and visiting antiques and vintage fairs.

Simon Welham

Simon Welham

Activities & Community Engagement (ACE) Facilitator - Finborough Court, Great Fiborough

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Simon had been teaching music for over 20 years before joining Finborough Court, but it was time to have a change. He enjoys the fun and creativity of the role, especially being able to play the piano for the devotions and services, or a sing along. For him, the time with family members is very special.

Simon has a wife and two girls who keep them busy. Of his hobbies he says, "I have more interests than time to do them."

Susan Schibli

Susan Schibli

Activities & Community Engagement (ACE) Facilitator - Milward House, Tunbridge Wells

Read moreless about Susan

Susan was born and brought up in Geneva, Switzerland and came to the UK in 1989. After working for many years as a vet, she became a foster parent, then moved into a role as a teaching assistant working with those with special needs. She has also spent time as a hospital chaplain.

As Activities & Community Engagement (ACE) Facilitator for Milward House, Susan organises and coordinates activities across the home for groups and individuals to enhance spiritual, social, mental and physical wellbeing. This includes managing a team of volunteers who support activities.

Susan shared a little bit more about her background and passion for this role in an interview with us. Read it here

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