At Re-engage we’re determined to put the ideas and opinions of older people at the heart of what we do. So earlier this year, we set up an advisory group of older people who use our services.  On a quarterly basis, we ask this group about their experiences with us, what they like about our services and what we could do better, and for their thoughts on how we might develop our work to help more people.  

We want to share this feedback with you, so that you too can see the difference that you and the rest of our volunteers are making to people’s lives. 

Our first consultation with the Re-engage advisory group was in June 2021. 

We wanted to find out about the impact that tea parties and call companions have had, as well as to ask about any support older people had during the pandemic. The responses were overwhelmingly positive, with people saying that tea parties and call companions make a significant positive impact on them, making them feel cared for and improving their sense of wellbeing, among other things. During the pandemic, our tea party guests had really missed being able to meet up, and those with call companions stressed their gratitude – describing the calls as a 'lifeline'.  

We caught up with the advisory group members again in October.  

Everyone in the group who has a call companion spoke positively about the experience and felt they were well matched – saying that often it was having the same sense of humour or same attitude to life that mattered more to them than having interests in common. "she opens up my life,” one member said of their call companion, "she makes me feel part of the living."  People love getting their calls and have enjoyed building friendships with volunteers.  

We also asked the group about restarting tea parties now that restrictions have eased.  

Some people had already been back to a tea party, while others were eagerly waiting to hear from their group coordinator; guests were much more likely to tell us they were impatient to get back than to express concerns about meeting in person again.  "The tea parties restore your faith in humanity," one person told us.  

Guests like it when they get to see the same volunteers each time, building a relationship with people. 

“The volunteers and coordinators have always been lovely… it would be very hard to lose them. Before, I was totally isolated. Since meeting these people, my situation might be the same, but they brighten you and bring you up. You would hate not to have them in your life, they make your life.” 

We love to hear about how much your time and care means to the older people you support. Talking to the advisory group also gives us a chance to see where things might be done differently.  

In June, people told us that they prefer the homeliness of tea parties hosted in someone’s house rather than a public space, and in October, it seemed that concerns about safety and Covid were more likely to be an issue for those invited to tea parties hosted in pubs or community centres.  

People also told us that they were keen for volunteers to make themselves part of the group. 

 “People who volunteer provide such a beautiful meal, we could make it more homely by sitting down with us, being part of it, rather than sitting separately or in the kitchen.”  

In response to the advisory group’s input, Re-engage is currently reviewing our communications with older people at every stage of their journey with us, from application to our regular magazine, Time Together. We will be speaking to the group again before the end of the year and will continue to share their feedback and our responses to it.   

Contact us

We have teams across the UK.


7 Bell Yard


0800 716543

Office phone:

020 7240 0630