Contact the Elderly, which tackles social isolation through regular Sunday afternoon tea parties, relies on a dedicated army of volunteers up and down the country.
There are currently more than 130 groups in Scotland, holding dozens of gatherings each weekend, including in the Lochwinnoch, Paisley, Kilmacolm and Erskine, Bishopton and Inchinnan areas.
But more volunteers are urgently needed in Renfrewshire to help the charity reach as many potential guests as possible – older people for whom a monthly Sunday afternoon outing can sometimes be their only respite from the relentless cycle of loneliness.
The concept is simple but effective – a chat with friends over a cup of tea and cake, something most of us take for granted. But as age takes its toll, often bringing mobility issues, and the circle of friends and family diminishes, horizons shrink and loneliness can easily intrude.
Step forward Contact the Elderly volunteers : local residents who act as informal hosts, opening their homes to a small group of guests, and others who provide a door-to-door chauffeur service to the afternoon teas.
Angela Rae-Murray, the charity’s support officer in the area says: “The problem of social isolation is nothing new but is reaching epidemic proportions as more of us are living longer but are sometimes less able to get out and about.
“The issue of loneliness among older people was recognised by our founder, Trevor Lyttleton MBE, more than 50 years ago when he offered coffee and friendship to an elderly neighbour in need of company. Today the charity continues to offer that vital lifeline of companionship but the need for volunteers is constant as we expand to reach more and more people.”
The charity is hoping to hear from anyone locally who could host a party or who would be willing to become a volunteer driver. “Hosts are only expected to hold one or two parties a year,” explains Angela.
“That’s just a few hours out of 365 days. Drivers commit to ferrying a regular, small group of guests once a month, but again that’s not a particularly onerous amount of time. And it’s a really rewarding way for anyone who wants give something back to their community.
“Kindness costs nothing but the difference it can make to the life of a lonely, person is really quite remarkable.”
Contact the Elderly is also inviting potential guests to get in touch or would be happy to hear from anyone who knows an older person who would enjoy a lively afternoon out with one of the groups.
“We know just how much our regular guests look forward to catching up,” says Angela. “One said that attending the parties was the happiest she had been since losing her husband.
“In today’s fast-paced life it’s easy for the needs of the older generation to be overlooked but I’m confident the Renfrewshire community will come forward to help and we’re just waiting to hear from them.”
To find out more about becoming a guest or volunteer with Contact the Elderly in Scotland, please contact Angela Rae-Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel 07902 246062.
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