Tea party launch to help combat isolation

Annie Clewlow, Communicare Manager, Faith Kenny, Communicare Volunteer Coordinator and Hannah Silver, Communicare Project Leader with Louise Mackney, one of the Red Cross community connectors

Tea party service launch to help combat loneliness

We’re hosting tea parties in Southampton to help combat loneliness

We’ve received £5,000 in funding from the city’s council to host tea parties throughout the year to help eradicate loneliness in the elderly and boost community spirit (June, 2018).

Our launch party will be held on June 23 as part of the Great Get Together initiative, which runs from June 22 until 24 and is designed to help bring people together.

Our Manager, Annie Clewlow said: “Funding for events like these is vital to our work in the city. We’re inviting anyone along who wishes to meet new people and share some tea and cake in the process. A very warm welcome awaits them! Our grant covers 12 tea parties for the coming 12 months, so there will be other opportunities for people to come along and get to know their neighbours if they aren’t free this time around.

“Information coming to us from a variety of sources including the city council’s scrutiny panel on loneliness and isolation shows that we need far more initiatives that allow people chances to get together and simply enjoy each other’s company. For us that is the key to a strong and effective community.”

We will also be working closely with the Co-op and British Red Cross on the tea party project. The retailer has offered to help supply tea, coffee and cakes, while the Red Cross will help local people join in the events.

The Red Cross and Co-op have been working together since 2015 to tackle loneliness in communities across the UK.

Our team will be assisted by Sheila Elsey, Co-op Member Pioneer, as part of her remit to bring together community groups, and Louise Mackney, one of the Red Cross’ Community Connectors working across Southampton to support adults of all ages experiencing loneliness or social isolation.

Annie continued: “We’ll be pooling volunteers to help host the events. By working closely with the British Red Cross, we are providing new opportunities for local people to meet up and socialise and making sure we are together able to reach as many people as possible who might need our support.

“Our service is run by us and staffed by our committed, kind-hearted, Communiteers who act as good neighbours; generously providing practical and emotional support.”

Communiteers are offered simple and basic training on topics such as safeguarding, manual handling and developing listening skills. They can choose their level of involvement and the types of activities they wish to engage in too.

The support offered is at a neighbourly level but Communicare does not provide professional, personal care, which can be given by statutory providers, or routine cleaning or gardening.

Doreen Smith, who uses our services, said: “The tea parties are great fun and it really makes a difference to me to be able to get out and about meeting new people. It can be quite lonely at home if you’re retired and on your own, especially if you have family but they are busy with work and other things. It’s important they get on with their lives and events like these give me something to do and it keeps me out of mischief! It’s an invaluable service, a lifeline.

“They are absolutely wonderful; a great get together, the staff are so friendly and welcoming, you are really cared for and looked after. It is lovely to meet other people and talk to everyone, the tea parties are really important as it gets people out of their home that wouldn’t normally mix or go out at all especially for those who might not see or talk to anyone.”

We’re keen to hear from individuals who can help with all the activities and services we offer, even if they have just an hour or two a week to spare, and, also, groups that already operate in the community who could help, such as church or Neighbourhood Watch groups, book clubs, WI groups, flower arranging clubs, all sorts really.

For further details, please call us on 023 8021 6022.