Dedicated Re-engage volunteer, Bev Owen, likes to keep the tea party tradition in the family.
Not only has she encouraged her husband, Alan, and daughter Jess, to get involved with the social events in Northwich, Cheshire, she's even bought a tea set and trolley for her 18-month-old granddaughter.
“You can’t start them too early!” said Bev, 57, who has been co-ordinator for the Northwich tea party group since 2017. “I just love getting involved with the tea parties and so do my family. We have made so many friends and the other volunteers have built some really good relationships. They are incredibly important to our older guests, who rarely get much company.”
Bev, who joined Re-engage after seeing the 1 Million Minutes appeal on ITV, asking the public to donate their time, has helped organise more than 50 tea parties. She makes sure her guests never feel abondoned, even during the Covid lockdown.
“The volunteers in my group made regular phone calls to our guests to make sure they were OK and check if they needed any shopping. We even managed to continue with the teas by delivering sandwiches and cakes to them every month,” she said.
“We have one driver whose dad runs a café and he would sometimes provide a free Sunday roast, complete with apple pie, they absolutely loved it.
“Keeping in touch with our guests is particularly important because we have a lot of villages nearby which are pretty remote and where there are restricted bus services. So you can imagine how isolated our older guests might feel.
“The good news is that now we’ve re-started our tea parties, things have begun to return to normal. One of our tea party hosts moved to Derby recently and she loved the tea parties so much that she’s setting up a group there.”
Alan, 64, an electronics engineer who runs his own company, and Jess, 28, are both volunteer drivers.
“We were short of drivers at one point so I suggested they might want to help out. And they did, without question, and both really enjoy it,” added Bev.
“Our guests are always upbeat when they come to a tea party because it’s a rare chance to socialise and just be themselves. They often comment about how much they love being together and it's just such a warm atmosphere, they feel they can relax and enjoy themselves.
“We get amazing feedback at each tea party - guests and volunteers leave with a smile on their face. What better way to spend an afternoon?"
Keeping yourself and others safe in a heatwave
It may seem appealing to be outside in the sunshine, but, with this week's record heatwave, it’s important to know how to cope with the stifling heat and understand the risk factors, so you are prepared for when it returns.
Stay cool, stay safe and stay in touch with those who are more vulnerable.
Could you be a volunteer tea party group coordinator?
Attending monthly tea parties helps thousands of older people feel less isolated and lonely because of the friendships that develop between our older guests and volunteers.
We are looking for new volunteer tea party group coordinators in locations across England, Scotland and Wales.