Norfolk appeal to hold tea parties for elderly
2010: A charity which organizes Sunday afternoon tea parties in volunteers’ homes for isolated older people, is appealing to Norfolk
churches to help it establish some new groups in the county.
Contact the Elderly organizes hundreds of such groups across the country to provide an afternoon of friendship for older people but only one group exists in Norfolk and that is in danger of folding.
Eastern England Development Officer, Linda Braeburn, is appealing to Norfolk churches to help provide this important community service: “I’m embarrassed to say that we have just one group based in Norwich and no others in Norfolk. To be honest, the Norwich group is in danger of folding and could do with some new volunteers. Our groups usually have up to 20 volunteers and between 8 and 12 older people.
“I usually find that Christian organisations are very supportive of and interested in the work that Contact the Elderly does, even though we are not a Christian-based organisation.
“We need more support in recruiting volunteers, receiving referrals of older people, asking people to network and tell others about what we do and looking for places to publicise what we are doing.”
As life expectancy grows and patterns of family life continue to change, increasing numbers of elderly people find themselves living alone and far from any family.
“Through our network of over 4,500 volunteers, we offer a simple yet hugely effective act of friendship,” said Linda. “Each month volunteer drivers take otherwise housebound elderly guests to the home of volunteer hosts, where they all enjoy the warmth of friendship for a few hours.
“The outings are once a month, take place at weekends, when elderly people are often loneliest and are free.
“This simple act of friendship by our volunteers only requires a commitment of a few hours a month, yet it makes a significant difference to the isolated elderly people they befriend,” said Linda.
In the year 2008 – There were more pensioners than children in the UK and by 2030 – there will be 36,000 centenarians, compared with just 300 in 1951.
One older Contact the Elderly member, Peggy, sid: “I've lived alone for over 40 years and miss all my friends and relatives so much. Bless you all for your kindness and thought for those who are all alone … it makes me feel as if I belong to a family.”
Another member, Mildred, said: “It is so nice to have a chance to dress up and go somewhere. I can't remember when I last had such a lovely time.”