Huddersfield people have been urged to help the elderly and isolated … by hosting tea parties.
The idea comes from Re-engage, the charity that fights loneliness among people aged 75 and over, which believes there is no better way to make friends than over a cuppa and a few slices of cake.
Now it’s looking for volunteers in the Huddersfield area to host the events in their own homes or another venue they organise.
The charity’s national ambassador is radio and TV presenter Sara Cox who is a volunteer driver for Re-engage and takes people to parties.
Nationally Re-engage, through its army of 11,000 volunteers, has been running free monthly tea parties since 1965 but has seen a decline in the number of groups since Covid.
The charity is concerned that many older people in Huddersfield rarely see anyone or may have lost the confidence to go out. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show there are more than 22,000 people aged 66 plus living alone in the Kirklees district.
Sara said: “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 Huddersfield to please do so. You won’t regret it.”
Doreen, 94, who was a regular tea party guest until her group was suspended due to Covid, said: “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 start soon and I can enjoy the company again.”
Re-engage chief executive Meryl Davies said: “We are delighted that Sara is supporting our drive in Huddersfield 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.”
Volunteer hosts provide a venue for the tea parties which are usually held on Sundays and volunteer drivers take older people to and from the social gatherings. The parties usually last a couple of hours and people often host the parties for a couple of times a year but can do more if they want.
For more information on how to apply to be a host or an area co-ordinator go to https://www.reengage.org.uk/volunteer/new-volunteers/do-you-want-to-be-a-change-maker-in-your-community/
Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.