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Helping isolated people in Kensington

National charity Contact the Elderly is working with Caritas, the social action agency of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Westminster, to help tackle acute loneliness among isolated older people living in Kensington.
 
The charity, which organises free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of isolated elderly people, aged 75 and above, with the support of volunteers, has launched a new joint initiative with Caritas, Diocese of Westminster to help further widen its reach to recruit more volunteers from the local parish and the wider community to help launch a new group in Kensington. Caritas, Diocese of Westminster, enables the Diocese to engage in social outreach projects that help the most vulnerable members of society, including the elderly.
 
The Contact the Elderly model is based on a simple yet effective concept: one Sunday a month, each older guest is collected from their home by a volunteer driver, and is taken to a volunteer host’s home, where they join a small group for tea, chat and companionship. The group is warmly welcomed by a different host each month, but the charity’s drivers and older guests remain the same. This ensures that over the months and years, acquaintances turn into friends and loneliness is replaced by companionship.
 
The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, who is supporting the scheme, said: “I am delighted that Caritas Diocese of Westminster will be working with Contact the Elderly on this project. Christ calls us to befriend and comfort the lonely and the work with Contact the Elderly is a true expression of this. Their way of befriending means that those who are most lonely are welcomed back into their local communities. I am very happy that the Diocese of Westminster will be part of this good work.”

Monsignor Jim Curry, The Parish Priest of our Lady of Victories Church in Kensington, has also welcomed the initiative in his parish and will be encouraging his congregation to volunteer for the charity too, alongside the wider community.
 
Contact the Elderly’s Director, Keith Arscott said: “We are pleased to be working with Caritas, Diocese of Westminster to bring the wider community together. With our rapidly ageing population, the issue of loneliness and social isolation among older people is only set to grow worse. There are currently 8,200* people, aged 75 and above, living in Kensington. Our vital lifeline can help to make a real difference to those who are isolated and living alone.”

“Any local residents of Kensington who can spare a couple of hours one Sunday a month, has a driving licence, a car and a capacity for drinking tea, is eligible.  And for those interested in becoming a host, it would just involve a couple of hours, once or twice a year. All you need is easy access to your home and a downstairs toilet.  We are also looking for volunteer group coordinators who can help us to set up the new group and spread the word to other potential volunteers in the area. I would urge anyone looking to make a difference in their local community to please get in touch today.”
 
For more information about joining the new Kensington group as a volunteer, please contact: Cliff Rich, Executive Officer for London and the South, on either freephone 0800 716 543 or email: cliff.rich@contact-the-elderly.org.uk

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