Journalist, broadcaster and  Re-engage volunteer Alice Beer is part of the Re-engage Fulham tea party group. She has been planning a tea party since the summer for the Hand Up section of her Do It 4 Youth challenge for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. 

Alice's tea party took place this week at the Hurlingham Club in London and Re-engage CEO Meryl Davies was one of the guests.  On international day of older persons, she reflects upon the afternoon and how it felt to attend her first Re-engage tea party in a very long time.  

The last 18 months has been tough for everyone and we’ve all had to face loss and find resilience. For older people, the experience has been profound. The loss of friends and loved ones, the intensity of lockdown for vulnerable groups, and the dreadful missing of important chances to spend precious time with loved ones.  

This international day of older persons reminds us the importance of connections with and amongst older people. The focus this year is on digital inclusion and that’s become an important part of many lives. Still, I spent yesterday afternoon with a Re-engage tea party group who had gathered for a ​special event. ​ How wonderful, this 1 October, to have the opportunity to reflect on a perfect Re-engage tea party after 18 months apart. One guest has just turned 92 and lives alone. When her dear friend arrived their delight at meeting again was immense. They’d been speaking on the phone but had desperately missed seeing each other. For one guest, this was only her second trip out of her house since March 2020.  

As ever, conversation ranged across topics. No one lingered too long on their experiences of lockdown. They caught up on news and shared jokes and laughter. A guest told me about her childhood growing with a mother who worked in a munitions factory. Every meeting with older people is an insight into lives full of variety and diversity and an incredible range of experiences.  

Everyone was happy to meet again and touchingly grateful that Re-engage had managed to get back up and running.  The commitment of the volunteer and staff team to get back on track after the devastation of the last 18 months is tremendous. And the impact of that is powerful.

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