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Volunteers needed to combat loneliness

An initiative to help tackle loneliness amongst older people needs more volunteers in the Frome area to ensure it can continue.

Contact the Elderly is a national charity, which aims to relieve the acute loneliness and isolation of very elderly people in the UK who live alone, without family or friends nearby. The Contact the Elderly model is based on a simple yet very effective concept: free, monthly tea parties for small groups of older people within their community – which develops fulfilling friendships and support networks.

Contact the Elderly currently has almost 450 groups in England, Scotland and Wales, which provide a regular, consistent and vital friendship link every month to over 3,500 older people, aged 75 and above. After 20 years the charity’s dedicated local coordinator is stepping down and a new volunteer, or a couple of friends to keep the group running by arranging the monthly outings, are urgently needed.

Contact the Elderly is also looking for volunteers to host the tea parties in their own homes, and drivers to collect the older guests from their homes and accompany them to the tea parties. Being a host requires a commitment of just a couple of hours, once or twice a year, and a home with easy access and a downstairs toilet. Volunteer drivers take the older guests to and from the tea parties and the hosts welcome small groups into their home for tea, chat and companionship. The coordinator role usually takes just a few flexible hours over the month, plus going to tea parties!

One in five people over 75 go for a week without seeing any family or friends, according to the last Census, while research by Contact the Elderly shows that 86% of older guests feel happier and less lonely as a result of the monthly get-togethers.

Contact the Elderly’s Somerset development officer, Helen Ker said, “The charity is committed to offering a lifeline of friendship to the oldest and loneliest people, but to do this we need to recruit more willing volunteers. Our volunteers genuinely get as much out of the experience as our older guests, so I’m calling for anyone who is interested in giving something back to their community to please get in touch with me as soon as possible.”

Local residents interested in becoming a volunteer for Contact the Elderly can contact Helen Ker, development officer, on 0117 960 9606 or helen.ker@ contact-the-elderly.org.uk.

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