Contact the Elderly launches 100th tea party group in Leith

A CHARITY which hosts monthly afternoon tea parties for older people has launched its 100th group in Scotland at a house in Leith.

Thursday, 31st March 2016, 6:19 am
Updated Thursday, 31st March 2016, 6:47 am
Contact the Elderly is celebrating the launch of its 100th group in Scotland. Picture: contributed

The first Contact the Elderly meeting took place in 1971 in Clarkston, East Renfrewshire, with just a handful of guests and volunteers.

There are now about 900 over-75s who live alone enjoying tea, cake and company during the free monthly meet-ups thanks to more than 1100 people volunteering for the charity.

Groups get together on Sundays from the Borders to the Highlands, with the latest addition launched in Edinburgh – the 14th in the city.

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The newest group held its first tea party in the home of 32-year-old Klaire McIntyre in Leith.

She said: “We all had a fantastic time and I’m looking forward to many more parties in the years to come. It’s a fantastic charity and I can already see the difference it can make to the lives of older people.”

The charity works by providing a volunteer driver to collect one or two older people and take them to an afternoon tea party in a volunteer host’s home once a month. It currently has a waiting list of more than 100 older people throughout Scotland and is appealing for more volunteers.

Valerie Crookston, the charity’s executive officer in Scotland, said: “It is a fantastic testament to our invaluable volunteers, fantastic guests and great team here in Scotland that we have reached this landmark number of groups.

“The amount of lives our tea parties have helped make better over the years will be extraordinary and of this I am incredibly proud.

“We operate on a very simple premise but the results are immeasurable.

“Feedback from the older people we receive each and every week shows us just how much the friendships and outings with Contact the Elderly groups mean. This is a major achievement and we are now supporting more older people than ever before to live more fulfilled and enjoyable lives but this is not a reason to be complacent.

“We already know of at least 100 people in Scotland who want to join our parties and we know there will be many hundreds more we haven’t been able to reach out to.

“To continue our work we need more people in towns and cities throughout the country to commit to offering an invaluable lifeline of friendship to older people in their local communities.”

Betty, from Brechin, Angus, who has been attending the tea parties for more than 15 years, said: “I don’t get out very much now, so the Contact the Elderly tea parties are marvellous.

“I tell everyone I meet about them as I have made great friends over the years.”