In the 18 years since the first ever National Lottery draw, Lottery players have raised over £29 billion for Good Causes. More than 390,000 separate grants have been awarded to arts, charity, education, health, sports, heritage and environment projects. In this guest post, Debra Bollan from Contact the Elderly explains how they have used Lottery funding to open nine new groups in Wales in the past 18 months, ensuring more isolated older people have something to look forward to throughout the year.
National charity Contact the Elderly is focussed on tackling one of the greatest challenges facing our society: loneliness and isolation among our rapidly ageing population. We have a network of volunteers who organise tea parties for small groups of older people in the homes of volunteers in local communities, including across Wales.
Our volunteer drivers use their own cars to take older people out for Sunday afternoon tea, while volunteer hosts welcome them into the intimacy of their own homes for tea, chat and friendship. Hosts make sandwiches, bake cakes and pour lots of tea, making sure that everyone feels involved and enjoys themselves. The impact is priceless: good company, a chat and lovely food among friends make for happier and healthier older people living less isolated and lonely lives.
National Lottery funding was awarded by the Big Lottery Fund in Wales in summer 2011, and in this time, we’ve been able to recruit 94 additional volunteers, which in turn has enabled us to support a further 78 lonely older people. We’ve opened nine new groups, as a result of the funding, in local communities across Aberystwyth, Pembrokeshire, Hafan Gwydir, Cardiff, Porthmadog and Criccieth.
As Dilys, an 87-year-old guest of the Porthmadog group says, it gives the older people a chance to meet new people and make new friends. “I enjoy the tea parties very much. The volunteers are so kind to welcome us into their home. It’s so helpful to have the volunteers picking us up from our homes, they are very caring.”
Meg Allott, group coordinator and volunteer driver for the Porthmadog group, adds: “Since March this year, the group has grown in terms of numbers of older guests. I can really see how much it benefits everyone involved. The guests in particularly love going to different houses each month and have also had the chance to experience some days out, including a trip on a steam railway through Snowdonia, with a café tea at the end. The volunteers are all very committed, and they gain as much from the tea parties, as the guests, getting to meet new people.”