Join the (tea) party

Tea partyTea party

Gill James is a coordinator of the Aldersbrook and Wanstead Contact the Elderly Tea Party Group. Hosting regular social events for local older people, the group are keen to welcome more volunteers.

Alan, Betty, Grace, Rene, Len, June, Rosemary, Dennis and Doreen. What do these nine local people all have in common? They are all in their late 80s and 90s and they all belong to the Aldersbrook and Wanstead Contact the Elderly Tea Party Group. This cheerful club meets once a month for tea and to tell interesting stories and jokes. They don't discuss their ailments and they really like cake.

Contact the Elderly is a charity which aims to help combat loneliness among the elderly in a very simple and effective way. The local tea party group is run by two coordinators (myself and Roger Godbold), who arrange a rota of drivers and hosts. The group has been providing teas at home and occasional outings for the guests since 2012.

Once a month, on a Sunday afternoon, each older guest is collected from their home by a volunteer driver and taken to a volunteer host's home for tea, talk and companionship before being returned home.

We would like to recruit more hosts and more drivers to be part of our group. If you think you might like to help out, but don't want to commit, please get in touch and come and observe one of our teas.

There should be at least five volunteer drivers in a group. All you need is a full driver's licence, valid insurance and access to a car. As a driver, we ask you to supply two references and we also take out a Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS) or a Protecting Vulnerable Groups check (PVG) before you start as a volunteer. Drivers commit to as many Sunday afternoons as they want. The monthly tea starts at 3pm and finishes at 5pm. Mostly, drivers stay for the tea and join in the chat.

Hosts provide an afternoon tea lasting about two hours for six to eight older guests and two or three drivers. A big teapot is required as is a downstairs or ground-floor toilet and easy access to your house (not too many steps to your front door). Hosts also need enough seating for eight or nine older people. Our hosts commit to one or two tea parties a year. The group coordinators will arrange dates and confirm numbers.

By volunteering with Contact the Elderly, you can find enjoyment and fulfilment in helping to make a real difference to the lives of older people who are isolated from family and friends. Studies show volunteering can improve both your mental and physical health, boost self-esteem and help you become more socially connected.

"Both my grandmas, who I was very close to, had recently passed away and I thought it sounded nice. I have a car and it doesn't take up too much of your time, you just make it part of your life," said one volunteer driver.

For more information on Contact the Elderly, visit, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 020 8989 4898

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