Appeal for volunteers to help set up third tea party group for Bishop's Stortford elderly
A charity which helps lonely older people living in and around Bishop's Stortford is urgently appealing for new volunteers.
Contact the Elderly is dedicated to tackling social isolation among the elderly and provides Sunday afternoon gatherings for people aged 75 and over.
The charity has been providing its services in Stortford for five years and has two groups that welcome 19 guests every month.
Dave Quigley, 77, who has been attending one of them for six months, advised others to join.
"When my partner passed away, it was without a doubt the saddest day of my life," he said.
"I believed that I had no reason to carry on living. I was living in a town where I had no family.
"All sorts of people offered help and one of them suggested Contact the Elderly. I wasn't holding out any great hopes, but to my pleasant surprise the Sunday afternoon monthly meetings have helped me considerably.
"Through my hobbies and my volunteer work, I have quite a few male friends but was lacking female company. Thanks to Contact the Elderly, I now have this. It's a very friendly social group and I look forward to our meetings. I would recommend the parties to anyone in my position.
"Never give up, you don't know what's around the corner. There's no such thing as strangers, they're just friends you don't yet know."
As a result of the success of the first two Stortford groups, there is now a waiting list to join. So, Contact the Elderly wants to set up a third group and needs to recruit more volunteer drivers who will collect guests from their home and take them to a volunteer host's home for tea, chat and conversation. The group is welcomed by a different host each month.
Cerys Bartley, who volunteers a few hours a month as a driver and usually accompanies Dave and other guests to the monthly gatherings, said: "I was very close with my grandparents and I miss them a lot, particularly their humour and outlook on life. I really look forward to collecting Dave and the others, having a chat in the car and getting to know everyone else at the tea party."
She added: "The group is very friendly and chatty, and it's a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The guests at our parties have lived such interesting lives and I love hearing their stories.
"Their attitude to life is so positive and puts so much in perspective. Every time I meet Dave I find out something new about him."
Contact the Elderly, which was founded in 1965, has more than 800 groups across the country with 6,200 members supported by over 11,000 volunteers
If you are interested in helping or if you know someone who could benefit from going along to a tea party, call 0800 716 543 free or email email@example.com