How wonderful it is that restrictions are beginning to lift, and we can start getting back to something that looks a bit more like normal in some parts of the country.
When we suspended our tea parties in March 2020, no one who is part of Re-engage could have imagined how long it would be until we could put the kettle on again and share the companionship of our groups.
Suspending our tea parties most certainly did not mean suspending the groups. Re-engage volunteers have risen to the challenges of the pandemic showing kindness and commitment every single day. New volunteers have also joined us in their thousands to be part of our call companions service, making regular calls to older people experiencing loneliness and social isolation which are having a huge impact.
As we all know, the message from scientists and business, as well as government, is that we definitely aren’t out of the woods yet. As we look forward to restarting our tea parties, we ask that our volunteers keep abreast of all official guidance both nationally and locally. We will continue to update the Covid-19 page on our website with links to information from reliable sources.
Over the last few months, we have been in touch with all our tea party volunteers to make sure that we have up to date contact details for you. After a long gap, some volunteers also need to update their DBS or PVG and the small team at Re-engage is working to make sure that you have the support you need to get this done. We’ve also put in place fresh guidance on important matters like safeguarding and data privacy, integral parts of many roles.
If your group has completed these steps, and if people in the group feel ready to meet again, then that is wonderful news. We know that our volunteers take very seriously the safety of the older people in our groups and will want to do all they can to make sure that everyone involved is safe. Many of the older people in our groups are vulnerable and have multiple underlying conditions.
We would strongly recommend that:
Only fully vaccinated (double jabbed) people should host, drive for, or attend tea parties.
You order some lateral flow tests, in case anyone needs one.
People with symptoms never attend a tea party.
Volunteer drivers wear masks when driving older people.
Tea parties should be hosted outside where possible or, if not, then in well ventilated rooms.
Where prevalence is high, we would ask that you hold your tea parties outdoors or reduce numbers of participants.
If you have a large group, please consider dividing into smaller groups for now to keep numbers down.
We hope that the re-start will bring a great deal of joy to the lives of older people and volunteers alike. Here’s to staying safe and having a wonderful summer – together at last.
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.
Are you LGBT+ and aged 70 or older?
We are launching research to inform our work and would love to hear from you.