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Article by Sarah Hamilton-Walker | 2nd July 2018

Friends in Need

Local initiative celebrates five years forging friendships.

A voluntary group that gives older, lonely people in Herne Bay and Whitstable the chance to socialise and make friends is marking its fifth successful year with a full programme of free Sunday tea parties for the over-75s.

Herne Bay resident Val Prosser, a Senior Associate with Kent law firm Furley Page, who has spent her career helping elderly and vulnerable clients, became a volunteer for Contact the Elderly in August 2013 and launched the local group in 2014. She coordinates a team of tea party hosts and drivers who give their time to Contact the Elderly, the only national charity that focuses solely on tackling loneliness and isolation among the over-75s.

“The tea parties provide vital contact for those who live alone and are an opportunity for them to meet others and build lasting friendships,” explained Val.

“As part of the work I do at Furley Page, I often meet older people who are extremely lonely and have very little contact with others. Sunday afternoons, when most community services for older people are not available, seem to be the most difficult time for them.”

Each month a different host provides tea and cakes in a variety of venues across the Herne Bay and Whitstable area. The volunteer drivers aim to collect the same elderly person each month to allow close bonds to develop. There are no costs or obligation to the elderly guests.

Val is always keen to welcome new volunteer drivers and tea party hosts. She is also inviting anyone aged 75 or over, who lives alone – and in the area – and would like to attend the tea parties, to get in touch.

• For more information about Contact the Elderly, visit www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk. To volunteer for the Herne Bay and Whitstable group, or to take part in the tea parties, email Val Prosser at vjp@furleypage.co.uk or call her on 01227 763939.

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