Norma found it challenging to socialise like she used to when younger.

But after joining a tea party, all that's changed.

Norma, 78, had found it difficult to socialise since the death of husband, John, six years ago, and it became even more challenging after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2022.

During discussions at a MIND meeting, it was suggested to her daughter Emma that she might like to contact Re-engage. She did just that, and Norma, from Chislehurst, Kent, hasn’t looked back since joining the Bromley 3 tea party group last year.

“It was the best thing we could have done,” said Emma, 46, an investment bank Client Relationship Manager. “Mum absolutely adores the tea parties. It’s simply awesome that she can be driven to them by a volunteer she knows - Robin, who is fantastic – and she can socialise at ease.

“Mum is naturally shy and doesn’t feel comfortable in large groups, so the tea parties are perfect. I call her after she’s been to one and, in her words, she is ‘knocked sideways by how brilliant they are, they leave me buzzing’ and I’ve never heard that before. It’s like talking to my old mum again.

“When she was first diagnosed, she retreated into herself and became more isolated. She had no motivation and if left on her own, will just sit and watch TV all day. But now she’s full of enthusiasm. I’m not saying the tea parties are the complete answer, but they have been a catalyst, giving her the confidence to socialise again.

“They’ve provided a spark that allows her to do something she enjoys, and she gets a sense of achievement out of that. It hasn’t been foisted on her. She really wants to be part of the group. I’m totally convinced that without them mum would have regressed even more.

“It’s also good for me because I know she is going somewhere she feels comfortable and so I don’t have to worry.

“At the last tea party, mum said the food was especially good and she was impressed by the fact the host’s daughter joined in. It was very much a family affair, which she thought was fabulous.”

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