Paula Holden has been volunteer coordinator for the Marston Moretaine tea party group since its launch back in 2018.
Paula started volunteering with Re-engage when she was looking for local activity groups for her Mum to join in Crosby, not long after her father passed away.
“I knew it was hard for Mum and that it was important for her to have the chance to feel part of her community. When I found Re-engage, Mum joined her local tea party group. She’s also been to the Re-engage ‘flicks and friends’ film screenings and is excited that Crosby area lunch clubs are getting underway again. I applied to volunteer because I wanted others to have the opportunity that Mum had.
“We started off with just two guests and the numbers gradually increased to around eight. After a difficult couple of years, when the numbers dropped a bit, we’re now building the group back up.
“During the pandemic we couldn’t run tea parties, but I compiled a monthly group newsletter with help from the volunteers, who distributed them to the older guests with their treat boxes.”
The most recent Marston Moretaine ‘tea party’ was a little different, as the group went to a local smallholding and met llamas, alpacas and ponies. Paula told us more about the visit:
“It was a hot day, but we enjoyed our tea under some mature trees, which felt a bit like being in a cathedral.
“The older guests loved saying hello to, and patting, the animals and they got to feed them bits of willow as well. But what really made their day was watching the young daughter of one of our drivers delighting in a pony ride and having a lovely afternoon – they really enjoy seeing things like that.”
It’s not the first time that the tea party group has ventured out. Last Christmas they enjoyed lunch and carol singing at a local forest centre café and they’ve also been to a former branch line station where the old ticket office and waiting room is now a tearoom and little museum.
“We currently have five older guests; three ladies and two men, which is a nice mix. Walter is such a character - he bursts into song on a regular basis. You can see how much he loves being with people and so he finds being alone very difficult. He had an extra treat at the smallholding when he spotted a new Porsche and was so clearly interested in cars that the owner opened the garage door to reveal an old Ferrari.”
“We have a real mix of volunteers. We have several retired or semi-retired people, but there are also younger volunteers, which amazes me as, when I was their age, I would never have dreamt of doing anything like this. But they chat away and the older guests are really interested. I remember one young couple had loads of bonsai, so they were talking about that.
“Getting the generations together means a lot – our guests love hearing about what the younger volunteers are up to and I know our volunteers get a lot out of being part of the group as well. One of my drivers had a baby and the group just loved meeting the ‘group grandchild’ – watching the relationships develop is one of my favourite parts of being a volunteer.”
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.