I work for a national charity called Contact the Elderly covering the North West. Contact the Elderly has been bringing friendship to lonely and isolated older people for 52 years now. We do this by bringing together small groups of lonely older people and kind hearted volunteers, who meet together each month in a local volunteer’s home, enjoying cups of tea, cakes and sandwiches together in a warm and friendly environment. This free door-to-door service is a vital lifeline of friendship for older people within the community.
Volunteers with cars (who have all been DBS checked and provided two references) each collect two or three older guests every month, and the group of 8 to 10 guests plus 4-5 volunteer drivers meet for Afternoon Tea in the house of a volunteer host. They visit a different home each month and over the months friendships develop. Group members are usually well into their 80s and 90s, (though the minimum age is just 75 years ish) living alone (or as carers or within sheltered schemes) without supportive family nearby and would struggle to get ‘out and about’ without assistance. Many of the groups’ guests will use a stick or frame to aid their mobility, and would need to be able to walk the short distance from their front door to their volunteer’s car (and get in and out of the car) with just the guiding arm of a volunteer for additional support. Unfortunately we are unable to include older people who rely on a wheelchair for their mobility – volunteers’ cars and hosts’ homes are not adapted for wheelchair access.