A Contact the Elderly group in Inverness has just celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Contact the Elderly’s first Inverness group was established in the Highland capital in 1998 and there are now five groups in the city helping to combat social isolation.
Loneliness is an epidemic sweeping the country and can be particularly acute among the older generation, especially now that the clocks have gone back and a dark winter stretches ahead. But the charity’s premise is simple: a little tea, cake and kindness can make all the difference.
Volunteer drivers chauffeur guests door-to-door to the gatherings, usually held in a local host’s home, meaning transport is no problem for those who might otherwise have difficulty getting out and about. Businesses and other organisations also support the initiative and last weekend a special Inverness 20th anniversary party took place in the city’s Kingsmills Hotel, backed by funding from the Olive Grove community café in Inverness and donations from Ernst & Young’s Inverness staff.
Contact the Elderly group coordinator Ann Johnston organised the event and has been involved with the charity since its inception in Inverness. She said:
“I have so enjoyed being a host for 20 years. The commitment is not onerous, just once or twice a year, to have some really interesting intergenerational contact for myself and my children. My youngest daughter was ten in the beginning and meeting with our guests was educational and fun.
“Being a coordinator and a driver for the past eight or nine years has been a joy. Again not a huge commitment, only one Sunday a month, but an opportunity to
really get to know the members, guests and the hosts who have all been so welcoming. It is a privilege to visit the homes of our hosts and the fact that seven
hosts have continued to open their doors for 20 years shows just how enjoyable an experience it is.”
Regular guests and volunteer drivers and hosts attended the event to mark the 20th anniversary milestone, but the charity are calling for more volunteers to come forward to help support future group developments.
Caroline Peter, Contact the Elderly Support Officer, said:
“We have a wonderful core of volunteers in Inverness but we’d like to welcome more people to join the party. We’d be delighted to hear from volunteers locally who would be willing to provide transport or open their home or business and host a party. And of course we’d love to hear from older people themselves or from anyone who knows someone they think would enjoy an afternoon out with us.
“Life can sometimes be very lonely for older people, particularly during the winter when it can be more difficult to get out and about. But we know just how much our regular guest and hosts look forward to catching up and we hope to build on our fantastic 20 years in Inverness , to share the experience and the party spirit with some new friends – guests and volunteers. “