Our first Contact the Elderly tea party

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Well, this afternoon I hosted Preston’s first Contact the Elderly tea party in conjunction with Full Life Church . It was such a privilege and so incredible to see just what a difference a simple afternoon tea with others in similar situations can make to an elderly person who perhaps isn’t able to get out and about, or who doesn’t have local friends or family.

As you may well know, I love to bake, so used the opportunity to make a few different things to ensure there was something for everyone to enjoy.

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Scones, of course, are a given at any tea party, and I served mine with raspberry jam and dollops of clotted cream.

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These mini filo and creme pat fruit tartlets are also a crowd pleaser, and are so easy to make. Check out the recipe here.

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I came across a recipe for a Bakewell Cheesecake this week which I thought I’d have a shot at and it turned out pretty well. The recipe is from the BBC website here.

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Cute little chocolate fudge cupcakes added an extra touch of kitsch, while a blonde spiced fruit cake brought an element of old school.

As for savoury, I kept it simple just doing finger sandwiches with classic fillings to suit all tastes. Ham, mustard and cucumber, egg mayo and cress, smoked salmon and cream cheese and mature cheddar and tomato. A few sausage rolls, cheese straws and pork pies finished it off nicely.

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Six guests arrived escorted by their volunteer drivers, and they enjoyed a tot of sherry in the lounge before sitting at the table for tea.

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The food was enjoyed almost as much as the conversation.

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I was presented with a Contact the Elderly pin, which I will no doubt wear with pride!

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This afternoon highlighted a few things to me:
1) Even the simplest things, such as inviting someone to your home for tea and cake can make a huge difference to them.
2) It’s a sad fact, but there is a demand for this, and there are far more isolated and lonely older people than we might think.
3) Contact the Elderly really does provide a lifeline for so many, and you can be involved. It doesn’t take much. If you think you might be able to host a tea party once a month, or drive a guest to and from the host’s house  then please have a look at the Contact the Elderly website and do something amazing! You won’t regret it, I can vouch for that.

Contact the Elderly

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Elderly people are underrated. All that life experience, wisdom, tales of times gone by, so many interesting conversations to be had, yet somehow, they seem to be a sector of society that are often forgotten.

For a while I’ve had an urge to get involved with an organisation that specifically reaches the elderly, providing social interaction, friendship and fun, because, let’s face it, what is life about if enjoyment isn’t a feature?

I did some research and settled on a fantastic charity called Contact the Elderly. The idea is that once a month on a Sunday afternoon (which is very often the loneliest day of the week for older folk as most other agencies are closed) volunteer drivers will pick up between six and eight elderly people from their homes and drive them to a volunteer host’s house for afternoon tea.

It’s a very simple concept which works wonders for the most isolated and lonely elderly people, injecting a bit of social interaction and fun back into their often insular lives.

I applied to be a host, but was told that unfortunately there weren’t enough volunteers in my area to warrant setting up a group. Never one to be deterred, I called on a few friends and local churches and lo and behold within a matter of weeks we had enough volunteers to form a group. We’re still in the early days, but are looking forward to our first tea party, hopefully in July.

It really doesn’t take much to make a huge difference in these precious lives. If you’re capable of putting on a simple afternoon tea spread, have a downstairs loo, and an easily accessible house then you could host. If you have a car and a spare Sunday afternoon once a month then you could drive. It really is that simple.

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I’d really like to encourage you to at least check out the website if not volunteer. I’ll let you know how it goes in July, and please do let me know if you end up volunteering in your area.