This Sunday is International Friendship Day and national charity Contact the Elderly is urging everyone to acknowledge the day.
Contact the Elderly rovides tea, cake but, most importantly, company to people aged 75 and over who live alone through free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties. These parties are operated entirely by volunteers who act as hosts for the older guests and their drivers, who take them from their front door, to the volunteer’s home, and back again.
Morna O’May, Head of Service for Scotland at Contact the Elderly, said:
“Friendship is the very backbone of our charity. It is one of the main reasons volunteers and guests join our groups, of which there are now more than 100 across Scotland.
“You only need to ask a guest what their afternoon out means to them to understand how important friendship is, to everyone, but particularly those who do not get out and about as much as they’d like. I’ve made so many lasting friendships through my work with Contact the Elderly, for which I’m very grateful.
“I hope everyone takes the opportunity to do something nice with your loved ones on International Friendship Day. And if anyone has some free time to offer a hand of friendship to others, then we are always looking for more volunteers so please get in touch.”
Across Scotland, Contact the Elderly supports more than 1,000 older people through its network of more than 1,100 volunteers.
Laura Brown, 25, has been a deputy coordinator for the charity for two years. She has a special friendship with one of her guests, 87-year-old Jim. She said:
“I have made many great friends but a favourite of mine is Jim.
“Jim, born and bred in Scotland moved with his wife to Zimbabwe where he worked as an industrial scientist and she as his secretary. He sadly lost his wife several years ago and now lives alone. His sight has deteriorated to the point of blindness but he has not let this slow him down. He is full of fascinating stories that I look forward to hearing each time we meet and he tells me for him, life doesn’t stop in old age, it’s just the beginning of a new chapter.
“Through our tea parties the label of ‘older person’ is stripped away and you come to see that beneath it all there’s just a ‘person’ with life experience, funny stories and empathy. It deepens your understanding of the challenges some older people face and what you can do to help.”
To find out how to volunteer with Contact the Elderly or if you would like to enquire about becoming a guest please contact Caroline McGinlay on 0141 812 1555 or caroline.mcginlay@contact-the-