“Knowing I can refer some clients on to a group, once we’ve completed a piece of work and their mood and self esteem have improved, can be a real protective factor in their ongoing psychological well-being and quality of life. These friendship groups are particularly relevant as social isolation can be such a risk factor for depression. Contact the Elderly has been a real lifeline for some people I have worked with.” Michelle Hamill, Clinical Psychologist
In the early 1960’s, Trevor Lyttleton MBE, met an older lady who lived near him in Marylebone. She had no electricity in her house and was entirely alone. He discovered from the Welfare Department that she was one of many hundreds in the borough in a similar position. Together with a few friends he decided to do something about it. They visited twelve older people whose names they had been given by the Marylebone Welfare Department and invited them to come to Hampton Court on the first Sunday in March 1965. From this small start, Trevor decided to set up further groups and in September 1965 they were granted charitable status to enable them to raise funds to advertise for volunteers.
In a nutshell:
Contact the Elderly is the only national charity solely dedicated to tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people. Supported by a network of volunteers, the charity organises monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people, aged 75 and over, who live alone. Offering a regular and vital friendship link every month.
Each older person is collected from their home by a volunteer driver and taken to a volunteer host’s home for the afternoon. The group is warmly welcomed by a different host each month, but the drivers remain the same which means that over the months and years, acquaintances turn into friends and loneliness is replaced by companionship. Our tea parties are a real lifeline of friendship for our older guests who have little or no contact with family or friends. They bring people of all ages together, develop fulfilling friendships and support networks, and give everyone involved something to look forward to each month.
What makes this project special: Contact the Elderly won the prestigious title of Best Older People’s Project of the Year in 2016 at The Herald Society Awards in Scotland, judged against over 200 other similar projects. The Herald Society Awards aim to ‘celebrate the dedication, the imagination and more importantly the vital impact of some of the best work taking place in the public and voluntary sector.’
National recognition like this is invaluable to us in raising awareness of the work that we are doing all across Scotland, England and Wales, enabling us to support even more older, isolated people within our communities and neighbourhoods.
Find out more:
Contact Suzan Hyland on 0207 8812361. Suzan manages all Contact the Elderly projects operating in the South West. In Wiltshire, projects are already up and running in Devizes, Chippenham, Melksham, Wootten Bassett and Trowbridge.