Since the start of lockdown, every three months volunteers from the Thurrock tea party group have delivered tea treats to their guests, as a reminder they have been thinking of them during these difficult times.
With the help of the Thurrock group volunteer hosts and drivers, group coordinator Loraine Coleman has organised the deliveries, whilst also helping to ensure that guests have received regular phone calls.
"Delivering tea treats to all our older guests has been a wonderful experience for all of us. Just seeing a friendly familiar face can be such a boost for them. Always observing social distancing regulations, our fabulous volunteers have been an amazing support over the last 18 months and none of this could have happened without them."
Before she joined the Thurrock group, local tea party guest Irene rarely ventured outside. Since joining the group and making new friends, her life has changed.
“The afternoon tea treats have been such a lovely surprise. The Re-engage volunteers just cannot do enough for us - they all deserve a medal. I was housebound during lockdown and I wouldn’t have seen or heard from anyone if it wasn’t for their visits and calls. I so looked forward to the tea parties every month and I can’t wait for them to start again. I’m truly grateful to everyone in our group."
As social distancing regulations ease across the UK, our volunteers are making plans to re-start tea parties at a pace at which they feel comfortable, and always adhering to local guidelines. It has been a long wait and we know how much they are looking forward to being reunited with their guests.
A very happy friendship
Over thirty years ago, as a member of the WI, Bernie and others hosted an annual tea party for Re-engage at her village hall in Essex. When we launched our call companion service during lockdown last year, she got in touch and was matched with call companion Naomi and found a very happy friendship.
Evaluating the impact of our online activity groups
We wanted to evaluate the impact of our online activity groups and so during April and May, when Wales was in full lockdown, we sent surveys to 85 older people after they had attended our groups for 8 weeks. We also conducted several interviews.