According to charity Contact the Elderly, 850,000 elderly people across the UK live alone. Many elderly people will not see anyone at all over the Christmas period while many also have no human contact for months at a time.
As the population of Essex and the rest of the UK continues to rise, more and more people are living alone. Fortunately organisations such as Contact the Elderly provide a lifeline for these people. They organise monthly groups, usually held on a Sunday afternoon, where elderly people can drop in an spend some time chatting and socialising with others.
Contact the Elderly is in need of more volunteers though. The main limitation to the number of people who can attend a meeting is the availability of drivers to pick them up and drop them off again. You can apply to be a volunteer here: BECOME A VOLUNTEER – they do also need more hosts and coordinators as well as drivers.
Host requirements are: “The only essentials are a big teapot, a downstairs toilet and easy access to your house“. To be a driver you need “a full driver’s licence, a valid insurance and access to a car“. They also require 2 references and will also do a CRB check.
The tea parties are a free event, guests are never expected to host a tea party themselves and the whole service is free.
There are now hundreds of groups across the UK, you can find details of groups near you on the Contact the Elderly website. In Essex you can find groups in Brentwood, Chelmsford, Coggeshall, Great Dunmow, Harlow, Wethersfield and Witham. To find out more about these groups you need to contact the regional development officer, Linda Braeburn (tel. 01279 417264). Southend has its own group and the leader is Suzan Hyland. Unfortunately it is only possible to email Linda and Suzan via the website.
Contact the Elderly do have a freephone number – 0800 716543 – and a group email address: [email protected]
Contact the Elderly provide such a simple but valuable service to the local community. For many elderly people the regular meetings are the only time they get to speak to other people. While youngsters growing up today have the benefits of social media and the Internet to stay in contact with friends 24/7, elderly people do not have these advantages. Make someone’s day this Christmas and contact the elderly.