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The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today called on Londoners to volunteer their time through his Team London programme, to help vulnerable, lonely neighbours, as he joined a Contact the Elderly tea party supporting isolated older people in the capital.

Recent research shows at least 75,000 people, over the age of 75, are living lonely lives in London, and that this problem is only set to grow, as the number of Londoners over the age of 90 is predicted to increase by 95 per cent over the next 20 years.

This morning, the Mayor joined a Contact the Elderly volunteer driver to collect a party guest, going on to join his Street Party Ambassador and community tsar Barbara Windsor for the tea party at a volunteer’s home in Islington.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:

“I believe London is the best big city in the world, and yet a worrying number of its older people are isolated from its many advantages. Today I am encouraging all Londoners, whatever their age, to give up their time, roll up their sleeves and get involved - offering the warmth, friendship and support that is missing from the lives of the lonely and vulnerable. Through Team London, my volunteering programme, we have already generated 63,000 volunteers across the city. I hope many more will sign up to help others in 2012, by offering their time, their skills, or like, this morning, a cup of tea and a chat, so that London can be a fantastic city for everyone who lives in it."

Contact the Elderly's gatherings (which normally take place on a Sunday) are supported by a network of volunteer drivers, who collect the older guests and accompany them, and volunteer hosts who hold tea parties in their homes.

Volunteer driver, Henry Nicholls, aged 27, said:

"Following the death of my grandfather, I wanted to spend time with other older people, who don't have family and friends for company. I learn a lot from the older generation and love listening to their stories. It would be nice to think that when I'm older, I will have visitors coming to see me. Volunteering is incredibly rewarding and doesn't involve a huge time commitment.”

Richard, 84, the older guest collected by the Mayor, said:

“I enjoy the opportunity to get out and dress up in my Sunday best. I would really miss the tea parties if I didn’t attend them. I’ve got to know all the other guests and volunteers and we have a good laugh together.”

Recent research among the Contact the Elderly guests demonstrates how beneficial the tea parties are, with 86 per cent feeling less lonely as a result of the service, over 80 per cent now feeling part of a community again and 95 per cent having made friends with the volunteers.

Founder and Chairman of Contact the Elderly, Trevor Lyttleton MBE, who originally set up the charity in Marylebone and also attended today’s tea party, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Boris Johnson to one of our monthly tea parties. Contact the Elderly has been in existence for almost 50 years and in that time we’ve helped over 100,000 older people in the UK and have arranged over a million individual outings for lonely elderly people. Our volunteer numbers must continue to grow so we can extend our reach to even more isolated older people.”

The Contact the Elderly tea party took place in the Borough of Islington, with eight older people and several volunteers attending. There are almost 80 Contact the Elderly groups spanning all London boroughs, supporting 600 older guests with the help of over 1,200 volunteers. Over the course of the next year, Contact the Elderly plans to open at least 16 new groups in London, enabling it to support an additional 150 lonely older people living in the capital. But to do this the charity needs more volunteers.

SIGN UP FOR TEAM LONDON!

People wanting to sign up for Team London, get more information, or find and post volunteering opportunities, should go to www.london.gov.uk/teamlondon.

Source: Greater London Authority

Written by Matthew Abbott
Thursday, 15 December 2011 9:09

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