Redbridge Supportive Communities Tea Parties shortlisted for Award

30 Jan 2020

Supportive Community Tea PartiesVolunteers at Jewish Care’s Supportive Communities Tea Parties in Redbridge have been shortlisted for the Redbridge Mayor's Community Awards in the Community and Neighbourhood Awards category. The monthly tea parties have been running for seven years and provide an opportunity for people to connect with others at tea parties hosted by volunteers in their local area. At the groups, new friendships are built and old friends reconnect. The tea parties give guests a chance to socialise and talk about common interests. There are now almost 30 regular attendees and two regular tea parties a month.

Alison Smardina, Supportive Communities Officer, says, “When I found out that we had been shortlisted I was so pleased for the volunteers. They are all amazing, dedicated volunteers who work so hard coordinating the tea parties, calling to invite guests, hosting and driving our guests to and from the afternoons (as many of them are not mobile). We simply couldn’t run the groups without our volunteers; I am so proud of them.

“We started with one group and it’s grown to two. It’s so important for people to be able to get out to socialise with others in our community and enjoy stimulating conversation. This has huge effects on people’s wellbeing and is so important for us to help combat loneliness and social isolation.”

One regular guest at the tea parties says, “It’s a lovely afternoon - everybody is very hospitable. The driver who picks us up is very graceful and patient.”

Whilst at the tea parties, Edna has reconnected with Joan, having lost touch for a while. They have known each other 63 years when Edna was an apprentice hairdresser and Joan was the manager. The two ladies now meet up each month at the tea parties.

Alf celebrates his 100th birthday at a tea party.Another regular attendee, Alf, who has been going to the teas since May, celebrated his 100th birthday last year with the tea party guests. Speaking after his 100 birthday in November, Alf said, “They made me a lovely tea for my 100th birthday. It’s good to get together to have a chat and tea, and I’ve been going for the past year or so. I’m still walking around; I never give up.”

Barbara Jaffe from Romford and Valerie Marks, from Woodford, who coordinate one of the Redbridge Supportive Communities Tea Parties, say, “Alf is so on the button, happy to chat whenever I call him and he’s always ready when the volunteer drivers call for him. He hasn’t missed one of the tea parties since he started. He’s really talkative and enjoys the conversation. The tea party was on Alf’s birthday, so we celebrated with balloons and birthday cake and a little toast. We absolutely love his company."

They continue, “We’ve been volunteering to coordinate tea parties for six years. We do it because we enjoy doing it. We get such pleasure from our guests, and they make us feel good because they’re just so appreciative—they enjoy it so much. Everyone volunteers, our hosts are fantastic and go to great lengths to make a lovely tea. Our drivers are all very good and reliable. We’re always mentioning it to people we know to try it out volunteering as drivers to take people along to the tea too or as hosts.”

Supportive Community Tea Party volunteers, pictured a Jewish Care awards ceremony, now nominated for Mayoral Award in Redbridge.