Contact the Elderly has declared a state-of-emergency as the number of socially isolated older people reaches breaking point.
Spurred by concern over the speed at which the government is tackling the problem of a million neglected older people off the radar and the rate at which these numbers are growing, the charity is taking the issue into its own hands as it heads into its 50th year.
Supported by a network of volunteers, Contact the Elderly offers a vital lifeline of friendship to those aged 75 and over, who live alone. The charity’s regular Sunday afternoon tea parties enable older people across the country to receive much-needed human contact.
A new study conducted by independent research agency Qa Research reveals that almost one in five (19%) of the older people Contact the Elderly supports joined the charity because they rarely saw another person.
With almost 50 years’ experience, Contact the Elderly knows that the solution to loneliness can be as simple as a regular face-to-face chat over a cup of tea. Some 78 per cent of the older people surveyed feel less lonely as a result of the monthly tea parties. A total of 96% said the tea parties give them something to look forward to.
Contact the Elderly Founder and Chairman, Trevor Lyttleton MBE, says “Loneliness amongst older people has reached a state of emergency and must not be ignored. For almost 50 years we have been focussing on providing a cost-effective solution, yet the demand for our service has never been so high.
“We know our formula of tea and conversation works, but we simply cannot reach out to the people that desperately need our help without increased volunteers and funding.”
Mary Rance, CEO of Contact the Elderly, says “It is shocking that we have
1200 older people on our waiting list desperately in need of our help. Our Power of Contact appeal will help us reach out to these people and thousands more whose lives can be transformed by our work.”
With the survey identifying key loneliness triggers as marital bereavement
(22%) and lack of mobility (51%); 80 per cent of guests said they felt happier after joining one of the charity’s groups.
“By its nature, social isolation often means that the loneliest people are the hardest to reach. By spreading the word we can find these older men and women and offer them our vital lifeline of friendship” says Mary Rance.
Iris and Juanita’s story
Iris lives alone in South East London and, following the death of her husband and with no family nearby, Iris was very lonely.
Eight years ago Iris joined Contact the Elderly and Juanita came to pick her up and take her to the tea party and since then she has not looked back. Suffering poor health it can be a real struggle getting out and about. Following two strokes, Iris was basically housebound and the monthly teas served as something more than sandwiches and cake, it was something to look forward to.
As Juanita and Iris’ friendship has grown considerably since they first met – and they are the closest friends. Juanita takes Iris to see her favourite singer and calls or pops in regularly to catch up and have a cuppa.
Iris is very happy to have a catch up on the phone – she’s a lovely lady who is always keen to welcome new guests and acts as a great introducer!