Hosting for Contact the Elderly

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1 Hosting for Contact the Elderly Welcome! We d like to say a big thank you for volunteering with Contact the Elderly. Our volunteers are extremely important to us - in fact, they re what keep the charity going. Inviting a Contact the Elderly group into your home makes a lasting difference to lonely older people s lives. And we hope you ll find it rewarding and enjoyable as well. So thank you for giving up your time to help. There s more information about Contact the Elderly and hosting a tea party in this leaflet, so please read it carefully. And if you have any questions or suggestions, now or later, please do get in touch with us. Kind regards Mary Rance CEO, Contact the Elderly Contact the Elderly, 2 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1W 0DH Website: Free phone: Tel: Fax: Contact the Elderly is a registered charity in England and Wales ( ) and in Scotland (SC039377). Company Number ( ) Registered office: 2 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1W 0DH.

2 About Contact the Elderly Our Chairman, Trevor Lyttleton MBE, set up Contact the Elderly in He saw the need to offer companionship to isolated older people, and set up a network of volunteers to help. Since then our aim has been to give a lifeline of friendship to as many housebound older people as we can. Our National Office is in London, where our CEO and her team run the charity with administration, policy and fundraising. Regional staff support existing groups and set up new ones and our network of volunteers stretches all over mainland Britain. So many people aged 75 and over spend the majority of their days alone, cut off from society and unable to get out without help. With your help, we can reduce the number. What we do One Sunday a month, volunteers organise a small gathering for their group with tea, cake and company. The simple act of being invited into a friendly family home makes a lasting difference to older people s lives and reconnects them with the community. Our groups are open to older people who: 75 and over live isolated, lonely lives with little or no contact with other people can only get out and about with help. How it works Each group consists of 6-10 older guests, 3-6 drivers and 6-12 hosts. Each older guest is picked up by a driver who makes sure the guests get safely to and from the party. Our hosts take it in turns to welcome the guests and drivers into their homes for a few hours. The groups themselves stay the same every time. So over the weeks, drivers, hosts and older guests really get to know one another and often become close friends. Our volunteers There are four main roles for our volunteers: Drivers Hosts Group Coordinators Area Organisers We also welcome volunteers at National Office for fundraising, finance, PR and general admin. All of our group volunteers must be able to chat freely and listen with interest and a good sense of humour! Our drivers must be safe, competent and able to assist our more frail guests. 1

3 References and checks We take every care to make sure our older guests are safe. So we ask for two references and also carry out Disclosure and Barring Service checks for coordinators, drivers and area organisers as they spend time with older people on their own. Hosting a tea party for your group The arrangements You will only be asked to host once or twice a year. Your Group Coordinator will arrange a date for you to host the party and will let you know the group are coming well beforehand. A couple of weeks before your party, they will call again to confirm the date and give you an idea of numbers. Then nearer the time, they will give you exact numbers. What you need to do Make sure your home is easily accessible and safe. Some older members are unsteady on their feet. Flights of stairs can cause problems, but a few steps are usually fine. Please make sure your home is free from trailing cables, and remove any rugs or anything else an older guest could trip on. Have a mixture of soft and hard chairs for your guests. Don t worry if you haven t got enough chairs for the other volunteers, they ll be mingling and helping you out. Provide a selection of food and drink for the afternoon tea. This could for example consist of tea, sandwiches and cakes. Your Coordinator will let you know about any special dietary needs. Give your older guests a very warm welcome! If you are unable to help on a particular Sunday, for example if you re ill or going away, please let your Group Coordinator know as early as you can. Extra advice Older people can be particularly at risk from food poisoning. So if you d like some information on safe catering practices, visit Or you can contact your Group Coordinator, regional contact or National Office if you re concerned. For extra information on making your home safe visit or Your fellow volunteers are here to help The drivers will assist guests who need help walking. And all the volunteers will be able and happy to help you in any way to make the day easy and enjoyable for you too. So please do ask them. In the rare event that an older person is taken ill or has an accident, the Group Coordinator will know what to do. Keeping everyone calm is important. And we ask our coordinators to err on the side of caution, so they may call a doctor or an ambulance. 2

4 Volunteer drivers sometimes ask if they can bring along a potential volunteer or a friend to the party. This is a great way for guests to meet new people and perhaps encourage a new volunteer! But the Group Coordinator will always ask your permission first. Smoking Generally, we ask volunteers not to smoke in the presence of the older guests. Important information Insurance Our Employee and Public Liability insurance covers you for damage or injury because of negligence by a volunteer or guest. But it does not cover accidental damage in your home. It is rare for the tea parties to cause damage, but we recommend you take out Accidental Damage Contents Insurance. Your information We will keep your name and contact details on file and only use them for your volunteering and to keep you up to date. We will never give your details to other organisations and under the Data Protection Act you are entitled to see the information we have for you. If any of your contact details change, please do let us know so we always know where to reach you. Sensitive issues You may get to know your older guests very well over the months. This is fantastic, and probably the main reason why the charity works so well! As you develop close relationships, you may come across a situation where you re not sure about the right thing to do. There are a few pointers below, but if you re ever worried, please ask your Group Coordinator, regional contact or National Office for advice. Gifts Exchanging small gifts like flowers or chocolates for a birthday or as a thank you is all part of the fulfilling friendships that often develop between our volunteers and older guests. But please think very carefully about accepting gifts of a higher monetary value. Indeed, we would recommend you actually decline such gifts, however well meant the gesture is, as this will help you and the charity avoid any misunderstandings or potential embarrassment in the future. If in any doubt, please talk to your Group Coordinator. Wills Please do not get involved in preparing or advising on an older guest s will, even if they ask you to. Welfare If you re worried about a guest s welfare, please talk to your Group Coordinator or regional contact. Giving advice Older guests may ask your advice from time to time. Unless you are qualified to help them, it is best to direct them to one of these help lines: 3

5 Age UK Scottish Helpline for Older People Social Media Social media refers to internet sites, including but not limited to internet forums, social blogs, weblogs, microblogs and specific sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Contact the Elderly currently uses Twitter and Facebook, to share ideas and opinions. All volunteers can post comments on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Some volunteers may also have blogs on which they talk about their volunteering at Contact the Elderly. You are encouraged to post comments on Contact the Elderly s Facebook and Twitter pages as well as on any other social media that Contact the Elderly may use in the future. These social media outlets help us all keep in touch, celebrate our success, share ideas, create some enthusiasm and publicise what we do. However, please make sure that your posts do not: Include any personal comments about individual guests, individual volunteers, individual staff members or other individuals associated with the Charity Include comments that could identify individual guests, individual volunteers, individual staff members or other individuals associated with the Charity contain libellous, defamatory, bullying or harassing content contain breaches of copyright and data protection contain material of an illegal, sexual or offensive nature include confidential information about the Charity bring the Charity into disrepute or compromise the Charity s reputation use the Charity to endorse or promote any product, opinion or political cause. If you share pictures or videos which include any individuals associated with Contact the Elderly please ensure you have their permission to do so. If you are in doubt about what may be appropriate content for social media, you should seek advice from the National Office. Equal opportunities Contact the Elderly aims to make sure no employee, volunteer or older member receives less favourable treatment on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origin, gender, marital status, sexual orientation or disability. We expect our volunteers to work to this framework and, as a volunteer, you can expect to be treated in line with the policy as well. If you have any problems We hope you will enjoy volunteering with Contact the Elderly. If you re ever unhappy with anything, please talk it through with your Group Coordinator. If this doesn t ease the problem, or you feel unable to approach them, you can contact your regional contact or our CEO. 4

6 Keeping in Contact We love to hear good news and stories from our Contact the Elderly groups. We often send them to the press to increase awareness of the charity, or use them in our newsletter, Contact News. So if you have any good photos or stories you d like to share with us, please send them to us at National Office. We can t promise each one will be published, but we will enjoy reading them all! We send our newsletter to keep our volunteers up to date. But if you d like more information, have a look at our website, Can you help us drum up more support? There are lots of things you can do to help us raise awareness and encourage more volunteers. Tell your friends, family and workmates about volunteering with us Put posters up or drop leaflets into your library, church or leisure centre for example Give a talk about Contact the Elderly to another organisation you belong to Ask your employer to promote us in their newsletter, or appoint us their Charity of the Year. If you think you can help, please get in touch and we ll get you started. Can you set up a new group? We re always looking to set up new Contact groups, so if you re interested please let us know. We can give you everything you need to publicise the group and encourage volunteers. And we ll support you all the way! Our Step by step guide on how to create and coordinate a Contact the Elderly group is available from your regional contact or from National Office. 5

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