‘It really helps their mind stay active’: Tea parties for elderly helping Manchester shed loneliness hotspot reputation

Contact The Elderly are hosting afternoon tea parties for older people, after Manchester was identified as a loneliness hotspot.

The events are ran once a month on Sunday afternoons to encourage older people who may have become isolated to meet new people and to get out of the house.

There are over two million elderly people living alone in the UK, but the charity have set up 620 tea party groups, ran by over 8,500 volunteers, to combat what is an increasing issue.

And Liam Johnson, Communications Officer for Contact The Elderly, feels that those affected by isolation can often feel shy when it comes to making friends.

“A lot of the older people feel that they miss socialising with other people, they just don’t have the means to do it,” he told MM.

“Maybe they’ve had a bereavement or they feel a little bit shy and a little bit tentative about meeting new people.

“What happens at the tea party is people sit together and have tea and sandwiches – but that’s not really the main point.

“The real idea behind it is to get people out of their house, socialising and making a group of friends.

“It’s just the fact that it’s a very relaxed situation, it’s very friendly.

“Their confidence grows, they feel a lot happier. Loneliness can often be linked with depression and mental health issues so it really helps their mind to stay active.” 

Contact the Elderly are hoping to double the amount of elderly people that they support by 2020.

Research done by the charity has shown that 80% of guests feel happier as a result of the tea parties and 25% visit their GP less. 

And Liam believes it is the simple things that make the biggest differences for the people that they help.

“Things like having somebody remember what type of cake you like, or how you like to take your cup of tea, it really helps them to feel included and feel thought about,” he said.

“We want to find more older people and that’s our biggest challenge because the people that we help are isolated.

“Our biggest challenge is getting in touch with them and making them aware of what we do.”

If you know of somebody who could benefit from the Contact The Elderly afternoon tea parties, or if you want to get involved with charity, click here.

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