People across the South who may be feeling lonely this winter are invited to join free monthly get-togethers featuring gentle company and conversation.
Twenty-one Colten Care homes in Hampshire, Dorset, Sussex and Wiltshire are starting the Tea & Togetherness gatherings from this month.
They are part of a long-standing bid by the family-owned provider to help confront community loneliness.
The move follows the success of an initial monthly get-together which began last year at Colten’s Bourne View care home in Poole.
It has continued to grow in popularity with more and more people from the community attending.
Regular visitor Margaret Howl said: “It’s fantastic. You are always made so welcome and I am meeting people I haven’t seen for years. It’s a happy, friendly experience each time. I never expected to be coming into a care home and enjoying this level of companionship. I mark it in my diary every month so I can make sure to avoid anything else that might come up. I am definitely planning to come all through 2020.”
Margaret has already struck up a friendship with fellow visitor Sue Turner, who said: “I would encourage anyone living on their own, or who is feeling lonely, to come along. So many elderly people live away from their families and are not speaking much with neighbours. In contrast, these get-togethers are wonderful, just the best thing. They get you out of the house, help keep your brain active and you can even have a dance if you want the exercise. The whole atmosphere is friendly. It’s an occasion full of smiles and lovely people.”
Mark Aitchison, Colten Care Chief Executive said: “We want to build on our success at Bourne View by introducing similar events for all the communities our homes serve.
“We’ve been making contact with people across the South through GP surgeries, churches and community facilities to help promote what we’re doing.
“We have always worked hard to help elderly people who may be at risk of feeling isolated – it’s not something new for us.
“But, equally, we know there is increasing awareness of the impact of loneliness on health and wellbeing and so we’ve stepped up our efforts to make a difference.”
Research by Age UK estimates there are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK with the number of over-50s experiencing loneliness set to reach two million by 2025/6, a 49% increase in ten years.
There are many causes of loneliness, including poor health, bereavement and a lack of contact with family, friends or neighbours.
Tea & Togetherness takes place across the Colten Care group: All get-togethers start at 2.30 pm except Braemar Lodge in Salisbury where the start time is 10 am.
For more information, call 01425 460900.