Sunday 13th February saw an influx of visitors to Margaret's Cottage as it was our turn to host tea for the Stebbing branch of Contact The Elderly. Six guests and five drivers arrived promptly at 3pm and included Charlie who celebrated his 100th birthday last October, and Phil who is 90.
Although we only see the group once a year - they visit different hosts' homes in the area one Sunday a month - the members clearly have a great rapport and the conversation was buzzing. As I toured the room, teapot and cakestand in hand, I heard reports of visits to Vancouver, childhood exploits, families and former jobs being discussed.
It reminded me what a wealth of information older people have about the past including first-hand stories of what it was like to live through the war, houses pre-central heating and dozens of other topics. I love to hear their tales and feel that there may be many others who would like to do so as well. As she left, one guest clutched my hand and told me, "Thank you so much, you make Sundays worth living for."
This comment brought home to me just what a lifeline these outings are to older people who live alone and are almost housebound. With government cuts to a range of services imminent, many more elderly people are likely to become even more isolated and we can contribute to the Big Society by volunteering for a huge number of charities and services that help to bridge the gap.
If you think you can spare one Sunday a month and can host around a dozen people for tea, then do visit http://www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk/page.php?page=locations to see if there is a group near you. Alternatively, you can volunteer as a driver or even set up a group if one doesn't already operate in your area. I can say, from first hand experience, that it's extremely rewarding and great fun.