About 5 years ago, I saw an advert in a tube station for a charity called Contact the Elderly. It said something along the lines of “Like cake? We need you!”. They had me right there.
You know me, I love cake. I mean, I really love cake. Baking has always been an antidote to any stress or worry in my life. A kind of meditation I suppose. The weighing and mixing and measuring. There’s no space in my mind to fit in anything else when I’m cooking.
Then it’s followed by the act of giving that cake away and sharing it. It says, “I care enough about you to have spent time thinking about you and making this for you” (or sometimes “please eat some with me so I don’t eat it all” Just me? Oh okay then..)
Contact the Elderly bring together groups of isolated older people, often people without any family living close by, or perhaps any family at all. The local groups meet one Sunday a month at the home of a tea party host. Volunteer drivers collect the guests and stay to share tea, cake and chitchat.
Many of the guests aren’t able to get out and about on their own any more, so meeting with friends (old and new) for just one afternoon a month makes a huge difference to their lives.
When I first saw that advert for the charity we had a lot going on in our lives and I like to think that it came at the perfect time to remind me not to be quite so absorbed in my own worries and sadness. Now, the twice yearly tea parties are part of our lives and we enjoy them so much.
I lost all of my grandparents very early in my life and so it’s particularly special to spend time with these ladies that have so much wisdom and fun to share. They make us laugh and surprise us each visit, with tales of Birmingham in the 50’s or of long forgotten local cakes.
This week Sylvia and Shelia were telling me about how they’d returned to work after having children, which was almost unheard of in those days. These ladies are an inspiration to me as a juggling Mum today. It turns out that mothers were consumed with the guilt of difficult decisions in exactly the same as we are now. Who knew?
They’ve opened my eyes to a whole generation that I’ve never really been lucky enough to have in my life.
The menu for this party was:
Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam
Victoria Sponge Cupcake
Raisin & Honey Low Sugar Loaf
Giant Golden Chocolate and Caramel Layer Cake
If you’re interested in volunteering as a host or a driver, please have a look at the website here: Contact the Elderly. There are groups all over the country and they would love to hear from you.