TV Presenter Sara Cox is calling for volunteers in Doncaster to help older people who may feel isolated following the pandemic.
Sara, who is a volunteer driver for Re-engage, the charity that fights loneliness among those aged 75 and over, is backing a campaign to launch 200 new tea party groups throughout the UK where older people can find company and companionship. And she is appealing to Doncaster residents to come forward.
Re-engage, through its army of 11,000 volunteers, has been running free monthly tea parties since 1965 but has seen a decline in the number of groups since Covid.
And the charity is concerned that many older people in Doncaster rarely see anyone or may have lost the confidence to go out. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show there are over 18,000 people aged 66 plus living alone in the city.
Sara said: “The tea parties are a crucial social event for so many older people, some of whom rarely leave their homes.
“There are inevitably some who may have lost their confidence. But I know from my experience that once they get to a tea party they have a wonderful time, chatting and eating cake. It really lifts them and brings something extra special to what can be, otherwise, solitary lives. They really feel they are part of their local community.
“That’s why these tea parties are so important and why I’m encouraging anyone who can help start a group in Doncaster to please do so. You won’t regret it.”
Doreen, 94, who was a regular tea party guest until her group was suspended due to Covid, said: “I really miss them. I have bad eyesight and get very lonely. Being with other people is so important. Joining the tea parties was one of the best things I ever did. I really hope they can re-start soon and I can enjoy the company again.”
Meryl Davies, Re-engage CEO said: “We are delighted that Sara is supporting our drive in Doncaster to re-build our groups that will help older people get together and form special friendships.
“Our volunteers get a great deal out of organising these events. They tell us how much they enjoy them and we appreciate their dedication and the amazing difference they make in their communities.”
Volunteer hosts provide a venue for the Sunday tea parties and drivers take the older people to and from the social gatherings.
You can listen to Sara making a Lifeline appeal on behalf of the wider work of Re-engage this Sunday (April 30th) on BBC1 with the broadcast repeated on BBC 2 on May 3rd.
If you’d like to volunteer or help set-up a Re-engage tea party please go to: