Fifty years of combating loneliness

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A group which hosts monthly tea parties for isolated older people in Kelso is urging locals to support the national charity behind the initiative, Contact the Elderly, as it celebrates its golden jubilee and 50 years of helping combat loneliness among senior citizens.

Service users and volunteers celebrated the charity’s half-century with a special “Big FifTEA” party on April 19 – one of celebrations nationally.

The charity aims to relieve the acute loneliness of isolated folk aged 75 and over by organising monthly Sunday tea parties. Supported by a network of volunteer drivers and hosts, the parties in Kelso provide the charity’s guests with much-needed regular face-to-face contact.

A monthly party can make such a difference to someone’s life and with 570 groups and over 7,500 volunteers across the UK, the charity is now appealing for more volunteers and local funding in order to help even more senior citizens, many of whom have little contact with anyone other than the postman, or perhaps a carer.

Ruth McGrath, Contact the Elderly Kelso group coordinator, said: “Every month I see the difference that the tea parties we hold here in Kelso make to local older people who are lonely and isolated.

“Friendships have formed between younger volunteers and older guests, who really look forward to spending an afternoon having a tea, cake and a good chat.

“Having seen the difference that our parties make to the health and happiness of older people in our community, I would urge local people to support Contact the Elderly in any way they can.”

Morna O’May, development officer, said: “Currently we are recruiting both volunteer drivers and hosts in the area to enable this group to help more isolated older people, as well as launch new groups in other Borders towns.

“Anyone interested in helping just needs to get in touch with me for more information – call 01786 871264.”

For more information on how to volunteer with Contact the Elderly or if you want to come along to a tea party, visit: or freephone 0800 716543.