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New Local Friendship Group Planned for Older LGBT Community

Contact the Elderly and The Diversity Trust have come together to work on creating a friendship group for the Older LGBT generation in the Bristol, Bath and South Gloucestershire areas.

Contact the Elderly is a national charity dedicated to tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people. Their aim to do this by organising monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups for older people, aged 75 and over, who live alone. With support from volunteers (of all ages), we offer a regular and vital friendship link every month. The tea parties are an amazing chance to share stories and experiences across the generations.

Contact the Elderly has had a productive couple of years in Bristol, Bath and South Gloucestershire with lots of new groups launching and brightening up Sunday afternoons for older people across the region and they are now planning to start a group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans (LGB&T) people, aged 75 and over, to ensure everyone feels comfortable and included. Being an older LGB&T person can be isolating without friends to share and understand experiences.

Contact the Elderly are working in partnership with the Diversity Trust – a not-for-profit organisation working on equality, diversity and inclusion – to develop local groups and are currently working on LGB&T engagement programmes in Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire, aiming to reduce the isolation LGB&T people experience.

The Contact the Elderly model is based on a simple yet effective concept: one Sunday a month, each older guest is collected from their home by a volunteer driver, and is taken to a volunteer host’s home, where they join a small group for tea, chat and companionship.

The group is warmly welcomed by a different host each month, but the drivers remain the same which means that over the months and years, acquaintances turn into friends and loneliness is replaced by companionship. Their tea parties are a real lifeline of friendship for our older members who have little or no contact with any family or friends. They bring people of all ages together, develop fulfilling friendships and support networks, and give everyone involved something to look forward to each month.

Helen Ker, Contact the Elderly’s Bristol, Bath and Somerset Development Officer, said: “ We urgently need more volunteers. Anyone who can spare a couple of hours one Sunday a month, has a driving licence, a car and a capacity for drinking tea, is eligible! And for those interested in becoming a host, it would just involve a couple of hours once or twice a year. It’s not a big commitment, and our volunteers genuinely get as much out of the experience as our older guests, so I’m calling for anyone who is interested in giving something back to their community to please get in touch with me as soon as possible.”

For more information about Contact the Elderly, please contact: Helen Ker, Bristol, Bath and Somerset Development Officer for Contact the Elderly, on either 01225 873812 or 07582 310974.