Tea parties for the elderly tackle loneliness

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Across Scotland people are opening their homes to pensioners for cake, tea and a natter.

For the elderly, loneliness can be an issue as many are not longer physically able to go out and meet people. Contact the Elderly have been working to fix this issue for the last 50 years by holding tea parities for those aged 75 and over.

Open House

Volunteers for the charity open their homes to the elderly once a month to allow pensioners to interact with new people. Some members of the groups may not get to leave the house that often or speak to people, so these events are something to look forward to.

Bunty, who lives in Stirlingshire, spoke to STV News and announced that attending a tea party has given her the opportunity to chat with other guests about her childhood. “I’m so glad I’ve joined,” she says, “I really look forward to my Sunday afternoons. When else would you get chauffeured from your door to the door of a wonderful hostess for a delicious afternoon tea and then chauffeured back home?

“The afternoons always fly by. There are discussions and people tell stories from their childhood. As soon as someone brings up a new subject it brings a memory to your mind and the conversation is once again overflowing.”

Tea Party

Groups of six to eight pensioners attend the tea parties in homes across Scotland with furniture laid out with tablecloths, fancy china and cakes to give the monthly meetings a sense of occasion.

The very first group of this kind to be established was in 1976 Glasgow with the network since growing to 123 groups across Scotland – there are now 1,300 volunteers supporting 900 guests from the Borders all the way to the Highlands.

Elderly guests get to enjoy the company of their peers, younger attendees and the volunteers hosting the tea parties, alongside getting a change of scenery.

Combat Lonliness

Speaking with STV News, volunteer John, from Aberdeen, explained that this is a great opportunity for the elderly to socialise, as for some it is the only chance they get. He explains: “You start to see how lonely and isolated some of them are, it’s quite heartbreaking sometimes when they don’t see anybody one month to the next unless it’s a doctor or social worker or something. No family or stuff, it’s quite a sad thing to see that they are so lonely when we’re living in a big city like Aberdeen.”

Age Scotland revealed that 100,000 older people living in Scotland can go an entire month without speaking to anyone. Through the tea parties, Contact the Elderly say that 95% of guests believe the events have given them something to look forward to, with 76% finding Sunday to be the loneliest day for them.

To get involved with the tea parities or find out more information visit Contact the Elderly here.

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