TV Presenter Sara Cox is urging residents in the South West to lend their support to a campaign focused on aiding older individuals who may feel isolated following the pandemic. Cox, herself a volunteer driver for Re-engage, a charity committed to combating loneliness among those aged 75 and over, highlighted this cause during the Loneliness Awareness Week last week (12th to 18th June).
The campaign aims to establish 200 new tea party groups across the UK, providing older individuals with opportunities for companionship and community. Bournemouth, Poole, and Christchurch residents are specifically being asked to step forward.
Re-engage, with its 11,000-strong volunteer team, has been organising free monthly tea parties since 1965. However, the charity has noticed a downturn in the number of groups due to the pandemic. There is growing concern that many older individuals in the South West rarely interact with others or may have lost the confidence to venture out. More than one in ten of those living in Bournemouth, Poole, and Christchurch are over 75, and 15% of older individuals in these towns live alone.
The tea parties are a crucial social event for so many older people, some of whom rarely leave their homes.
There are inevitably some who may have lost their confidence. But I know from my experience that once they get to a tea party they have a wonderful time, chatting and eating cake. It really lifts them and brings something extra special to what can be, otherwise, solitary lives. They really feel they are part of their local community.
That’s why these tea parties are so important and why I’m encouraging anyone who can help start a group in the South West to please do so. You won’t regret it.Sara Cox
One participant, 94-year-old Doreen, whose tea party was suspended due to Covid, shared her experience:
I really miss them. I have bad eyesight and get very lonely. Being with other people is so important. Joining the tea parties was one of the best things I ever did. I really hope they can re-start soon and I can enjoy the company again.Doreen (94 years old)
We are delighted that Sara is supporting our drive to re-build our groups that will help older people get together and form special friendships.
Our volunteers get a great deal out of organising these events. They tell us how much they enjoy them and we appreciate their dedication and the amazing difference they make in their communities.Meryl Davies, CEO at Re-engage
Volunteer hosts offer a location for the Sunday tea parties, and drivers take the older individuals to and from these social gatherings.
Those interested in volunteering or assisting with the establishment of a Re-engage tea party group are encouraged to visit the Re-engage website. With the support of the community and the initiative of volunteers, Re-engage hopes to combat the loneliness epidemic among the elderly population in the South West, one tea party at a time.
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