Helping elderly people keep in touch

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VOLUNTEERS are wanted to help tackle loneliness among older people in Eastbourne.

Contact the Elderly aims to relieve the loneliness of isolated elderly people by organising free afternoon tea parties one Sunday a month for small groups.

The charity needs a new group co-ordinator to help organise the tea parties and liaise with the older guests and volunteer drivers and hosts to ensure everything runs smoothly every month.

Drivers take the older guests to and from the tea parties while hosts welcome the group into their home for tea, chat and companionship.

The group co-ordinator must also be able to drive one or two elderly guests to the tea parties one Sunday a month, or host an afternoon tea party twice a year.

Being a driver requires a commitment of just a couple of hours once a month, a host just a few hours once or twice a year, and the co-ordinator role only involves a little extra regular commitment each month.

Janine Sharman, 54, who stepped down as group co-ordinator due to family commitments, said the role would suit someone who liked being part of their community, meeting people and organising things.

She said, “You also get the pleasure of knowing that people aren’t sitting at home, not seeing anyone all weekend.

“Some people don’t have any family or go out and you feel happy that they have somewhere to go and something to talk about because of the tea parties.”

One in five people over 75 go for a week without seeing any family or friends, according to the latest Census.

Contact the Elderly research shows 86 percent of older guests feel happier and less lonely as a result of the monthly tea parties.

Joyce, 82, has been going to the tea parties for a year and relies on them for the chance to get out, meet people and socialise.

She said, “I always feel better for a few days after the tea parties– it’s the company and being able to talk. The outing does me good and I’m very happy that I joined the group,”

The group in Eastbourne was set up more than 11 years ago and now has 20 volunteers running the monthly tea parties for 11 older guests.

Anyone interested in volunteering should call Julia Rivas on 01273 401569 or email julia.rivas@contact-the-elderly.org.uk.