A national charity that tackles loneliness and isolation among older people has launched a group to serve Kirkcaldy and the surrounding areas.
Angela Johnston, who is a volunteer with Contact the Elderly, has just hosted the group’s first free monthly tea party in Windygates at the start of this month with her husband, Ross.
Guests and volunteer drivers, who accompanied them to the gathering, enjoyed a friendly Sunday afternoon of companionship and conversation along with musical entertainment.
Contact the Elderly was established to provide a vital lifeline of friendship for members of the older generation who live alone and find it difficult to get out and about. There are now more than 130 groups across Scotland meeting regularly for Sunday afternoon tea parties, usually in a local host’s home.
The volunteer driver service means guests have no concerns about transport as they are chauffeured door-to-door.
Lorna Dunbar, support officer, explained: “We have five existing groups in Fife but not one that was close enough to Kirkcaldy to enable us to include older people from there who could benefit from our parties,” she said.
“We would love to have tea party groups in every town. Groups meet in the homes of our volunteer hosts so they are located both in Kirkcaldy and in the surrounding area.”
Lorna said the organisation currently has four guests, but is hoping to include more now that the local group is up and running.
She continued: “The parties are hugely important to our guests, many of whom have little or no other social contact.
“Living alone, sometimes with limited mobility, an older person’s world can be narrow and quite a dark place.
“Our tea parties offer social contact, friendship and fun, and fulfil a great need in the community.
“This can be true for the volunteers as well as the guests. The parties bring together people of all ages, encourage new friendships and support networks.
“It makes it possible for those with diminished mobility to maintain regular social contact. It gives everyone something to look forward to.”
The charity is also looking for more volunteer hosts who would be happy to hold a party once or twice a year.
Jennifer Kaney, development officer, said: “It’s really not a great deal of time out of the volunteer’s life, but the satisfaction it gives them just can’t be measured.
“Just seeing the joy our older guests get from being out and meeting over something as simple a cup of tea is a huge reward.”
She continued: “We are particularly keen to get some more hosts volunteering for this group.
“They would need a house with easy access, no more than a couple of steps and a downstairs loo.
“The commitment is to host an afternoon tea party as little as once a year.
“There are usually 10–12 people attending at most – drivers stay with the guests.”
l To find out more about becoming a volunteer please contact Lorna Dunbar at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01738 730249.