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Dear Friend,

From the minute we are born we crave contact with others and the joy that we get from friendship and shared experiences doesn't diminish as we age. The pandemic had a devastating impact on our tea party groups everywhere, with 70% losing volunteers or older people. We're determined to rebuild as many of our tea party groups as possible, providing that vital arm of friendship to lonely older people. 

Listening to older people who are part of Re-engage is central to understanding both the impact of what we do now and identifying what we should do next. Our advisory groups of older people give us feedback about our services and help us make decisions. A member of one of our advisory groups recently told us 'call companions is a life line". As ever, I want to thank the thousands of volunteers making phone calls to older people at Re-engage. 

Tea party volunteer Elaine enjoys driving 97-year-old Vera to her local tea parties in St Albans. Vera is a force of nature with a positive attitude to life, but without family around, she can feel lonely. I'm delighted that the tea parties have given her so much pleasure and thank you to her and Elaine for sharing their story with us.

Meanwhile, Deborah first started volunteering for Re-engage in London 1988 and today she is a host for her local tea party group in Bristol. It was a privilege to read about her journey as volunteer - she has some fantastic memories and I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I did.

This month, Re-engage tea party volunteer Dan sets out on his phenomenal 10-day cycle challenge to raise money for Re-engage.  Dan was inspired to help Re-engage by his close relationship with his grandmother, who died in 2012.  He saw how lonely she felt after his grandfather died and wants to make sure that others like her have the opportunity to make new friends and find companionship. If you would like support Dan's challenge you can do so via his JustGiving page

A lot of businesses have built impactful partnerships with us over the years. This special jubilee year, we're calling on businesses everywhere to support our Jubilee campaign. If you know of a business who might like to get involved, then please share this newsletter with them.

And finally, a new study has revealed that we get kinder as we age.  I often come across stereotypical references in the media to older people being 'grumpy'.  It was refreshing to read a very different take in the article that we're sharing below. 

Enjoy the read.

Meryl

Meryl Davies
CEO, Re-engage

Volunteer undertakes 987 mile cycle challenge

We owe a big thank you to tea party volunteer Dan Croxen-John, who  is undertaking an epic 10-day challenge that will see him cycle from Land’s End to John o’ Groats to raise money for Re-engage.  Dan, who runs e-commerce company, AWA, has been a dedicated volunteer for his local tea party group in York for some years now. He aims to raise £12,000 for Re-engage and his company will match all donations.

Read more

Meet Elaine and Vera

We caught up with volunteer tea party driver Elaine and 97-year-old Vera, who she met through her local tea party group in St Albans.  Vera loves to go folk dancing and volunteers for her local Oxfam shop.  Elaine told us “I often drive Vera and she’s certainly an inspirational person. She’s happy, positive and never gives the impression she’s feeling down about anything. She’s quite incredible for her age."

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Meet guest and volunteer Linda

Linda,76, joined her local activity group in her hometown of Penarth, in the Vale of Glamorgan, as a guest and enjoyed the sessions so much that she now volunteers for the group too.  Linda told us that she meets people from different walks of life and that the sessions give her something to look forward to.  

Our activity groups across Wales take part in gentle activities ranging from dance to yoga and tai chi. 

Meet Linda

Change an older person’s life this jubilee 

Re-engage tea party groups are a vital source of companionship for thousands of isolated older people across the UK. For some older guests, the monthly tea parties are the only social reason they have to leave the house.  

The losses of the pandemic have made hard for our groups.  We're calling upon businesses across the UK to help us rebuild new tea party groups. Donations will help us find isolated older people who would like to make new friends in their local area and recruit and train new, dedicated volunteers.  

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A volunteer's journey

Deborah first started volunteering for Re-engage in 1988 when she was 27 years old and living in London, working as a personal assistant for a head-hunter in Maida Vale.  She was introduced to Re-engage by an Australian friend who she worked with at the time and she and her husband signed up to drive for and coordinate local tea parties.  Over the years she has volunteered as a tea party driver, host and group coordinator in different parts of the UK.  Today, at 61, she is a host for her local tea party group in Bristol.

Do we get kinder as we age?

A new study published in Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience has found that we get kinder as we age.   Using blood samples from 103 participants aged between 18 and 99, the study showed that this behaviour is largely linked to a rise in the levels of the hormone oxytocin - the 'feel-good' chemical - as we age.

Read more
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