Karen and Kathleen are both members of the West Lothian tea party group. Karen has been volunteering for Re-engage for five years, as a driver and as a call companion throughout the pandemic. As an employee for the Royal Bank of Scotland, she also hosts annual tea parties at the bank’s headquarters at Gogarburn. She met Kathleen when she first started driving her to and from the monthly tea parties.
Karen: What we are doing isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s essential and I feel privileged to be able to help.
“Kathleen feels like part of my family. She’s sociable and exceptionally considerate of others. I’ve watched her chatting to the other guests, they really enjoy her company. I love spending time with Kathleen and our time together is precious. Kathleen is always impeccably presented; she takes such pride in herself.
“Her family are a tremendous support to her, particularly since her husband passed away, she speaks about them with fondness.
“Our group coordinator Lorraine organises our drivers every month. She’s a credit to Re-engage and our group is very close. She’s the glue that binds us all together.”
“Throughout lockdown, she got us into a routine of making monthly deliveries to our guests, from poems to flowers and afternoon teas. We wanted them to feel they weren’t alone during a worrying time.”
“Loneliness can have such a devastating impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of older people. What we are doing isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s essential and I feel privileged to be able to help.”
Kathleen: The Re-engage tea parties were a lifeline for me.
“After my husband died, I was devasted. I felt so lonely. I have a wonderful family who support me, but they’ve got their own lives. The Re-engage tea parties were a lifeline for me.
“I was a bit apprehensive at first, but I met other people just like myself. I remember the time when a neighbour of mine from thirty years ago joined our group!
“I worked as a chemist dispenser for many years – I started out washing the bottles when I was 16. I loved my job and all the people I met. My hobby is people, whether a stranger or a friend.
“Karen has become a true friend. I know that I can ring her if ever I’m worried about something; she’s always there for me. I can’t speak highly enough of her.
“I’ve really missed the tea parties during the pandemic, and I can’t wait for them to start again.”
Our LGBT research
In July we launched an exploratory research project to hear about the types of social activity groups and services LGBT+ people aged 70+ would like to take part in. Our research shows a clear desire for more groups and services specifically for the LGBT+ community.
A weekly 30 minute phone call can change a life
Julia has been making weekly calls to her call companion Sharon since December. Sharon’s mental and physical wellbeing suffered following a cardiac arrest and speaking to Julia makes her feel good about herself.