At the heart of the work of Re-engage is our huge network of volunteer-led groups which encourage two critical aspects of the fight against loneliness and isolation:
- Peer groups of older people meeting up on a regular basis to form new friendships.
- Generations mixing, enjoying each other’s company and learning from one another.
If you would like to be part of setting up a new Re-engage tea party group, then we’d love to hear from you. We can support you along the journey from the very beginning, providing you with the information and help you’ll need to get up and running, and then supporting you and the other volunteers in your group along the way.
We’re excited to welcome you to our team where we always put older people first. The four elements central to volunteering at Re-engage are communication, community, compliance and culture.
So how does setting up a tea party group work? All of our groups are led by a volunteer coordinator, and this is the person who makes sure that our older people can be confident of a regular social gathering. If you want to become a group coordinator, there are two ways you could approach this:
- Find a group of contacts – this may be a ready-made group such as a sports club, NCT group, Rotary group, faith group; or just a group of friends who feel like bringing their community together – and apply to be a group coordinator for a brand new group.
- Apply to be a group coordinator for one of our tea parties in need, in one of our key areas and recruit alongside us.
Once you have decided on your approach, you should apply to be a group coordinator through our website, and we’ll support you with training and resources. We’ll set up your group on our system and get the location on our online map so that people know that there is a group under development in the area.
Our team is here to support you. You can call or email us, but we hope that you will find a lot of what you need in our online FAQs.
Every month, we send all of our volunteers our monthly news called Re-engage Matters. It’s full of information that you all need to make your volunteering experience a good one – and we value feedback on the content of Re-engage Matters.
Our communications team is also here to support you if you need to recruit new volunteers or invite new older people to join your group.
Your Re-engage group will be part of your community, bringing together generations and working to ensure that local people are supporting older people whose links to the wider world have diminished.
You will also be part of the wider community of volunteers who are making a difference every day, strengthening the fabric of our society.
And you will be a critical part of the Re-engage community. We’ll support and guide you and your group but most of all we want you to feel empowered to make your group work and to enjoy yourselves together.
We are here to support you to make sure that your group is safe. We have compulsory core training for all of our volunteers, we work with you through the process of getting a basic disclosure from the Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) if you are in England or Wales, or a disclosure from the Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme (PVG) if you are in Scotland. And, we have a safeguarding team who are here to respond should any concerns come up in your group.
We live by our values, and this is what you can expect from us and how we’d like to work with you:
- Innovative: Showing curiosity, creativity, and taking calculated risks to challenge the status quo. Innovating for sustainability and scalable efficiency. Deepening our tech skills, and adapting to use technology in ways that are fit for the future.
- Transparent: Collaborating in an open, honest, and reflective way. Sharing knowledge and expertise. Using accessible communication that is clear, direct, and well-structured.
- Evidence-based: Following processes to ensure that evidence is gathered, analysed, and used to inform decision making. Prioritising the use of data and research to inform decisions and solve problems. Thinking critically about the evidence we encounter and question assumptions and biases.
- Accountable: Delivering on our promises. Taking ownership of our objectives and our personal growth. Celebrating, recognising, and learning from both our mistakes and our successes.
- Positive: Welcoming and valuing people. Being open minded and willing to listen, learn, and improve. Making Re-engage a great place to work with space for wellbeing and social interaction.
What types of gathering work well?
Our social gatherings are mostly Sunday tea parties – although we are always keen to hear from people who want to do different types of gatherings - and part of what makes them special is visiting people’s homes.
Tea parties or other gatherings generally last two hours and then everyone goes home.
Some of the older people we work with have seen their entire social circle diminish and they rarely or never get to visit someone’s home. Hosts usually invite the group twice a year and provide refreshments of a tea, sandwiches and cakes. Some people have children and pets who join in with the group. We want to keep social gatherings free for older people and so we don’t have the resources to refund expenses.
Driving for groups
Most of our older people aren’t able to get out and about terribly easily and so volunteer drivers are a crucial part of a group. Generally, the same driver takes a particular guest or guests to the tea parties, and they always stay and join in. The gathering is a friendly, intergenerational get together and the drivers are very much part of the group. Again, we like to keep the groups very local so that driving doesn’t become a financial burden on volunteers. In order to keep the groups free to older people, we aren’t able to refund petrol / mileage expenses.
Recruiting your group
If you have already recruited your team of volunteers then you will need to ask them to apply to be a volunteer driver or host via our website, applying specifically for your group. They too will be given online training.
If you want us to work with you to recruit some or all of your volunteers, then we’ll help you with local media and social media and other materials to spread the word in your area.
Inviting the older people to join
Once we have a group of volunteers ready, we can add in the older people. The majority of our older people come to us as referrals, and we will ensure that referrers in your area are aware of the new group. We can also support you and your group with information to display in the local area.