The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, visited Caritas Diocese of Westminster’s key project addressing the plight of the elderly and isolated in our communities. The venue was a Contact the Elderly tea party within St Monica’s Parish, Palmers Green on Sunday 15 September.
It currently has seven regular older guests, five volunteer drivers, eight volunteer hosts, and one volunteer coordinator – all of whom are parishioners. The older guests are 75 and over, with many into their 80’s and 90’s; they live alone and find it difficult to get out and about without someone to help them.
Archbishop Vincent said, “This Sunday tea party is a delight with gracious older guests mixing with three generations of the host family. When a family opens its home in this way everyone is blest. The elderly return home, often to days of loneliness, but with joy in their hearts.”
The parish group was launched in March 2013 and meets for tea on the same Sunday of every month. Volunteer drivers collect the older guests from their homes and drive them to the home of a different volunteer host each month when most community services for older people are not available at weekends.
Treacey, the volunteer host said: “My family was delighted to welcome this small group of older people and their volunteer drivers into our home for afternoon tea, which we enjoyed as much as they did. Many of the older guests told us how much they look forward to these monthly outings and it was great to see for ourselves how much they were all enjoying themselves.”
The older guests and volunteers, although local to each other, did not know one another when the group started, however the tea party has been a catalyst to the formation of good friendships between people of all ages. 82-year-old guest Valerie said: “I really enjoy the tea parties; everyone is so kind and I count the Sundays down until the next one. It is no fun getting old, but this kindness makes such a difference”