A unique lifeline of friendship

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Recently the national charity ‘Contact the Elderly’ organised a tea party, hosted by SFRS, at Clarkston Community Fire Station. The event required someone to be present at the station should the crew be turned out, but also to co-host the event with station personnel. Where better to turn than to the REA?  So it was that Jim Fallon enjoyed a few hours with a group of very interesting (and interested) people.

‘Contact the Elderly’ is the only national charity solely dedicated to tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people . Supported by a network of volunteers, the charity organises monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people, aged 75 and over, who live alone. They are collected from their homes by volunteer drivers and are taken to a volunteer host’s home for the afternoon. This offers them a regular and vital friendship link every month.

Each small 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.

The day at Clarkston was a great success as a group of ladies and their volunteer drivers sat around the dining table for a cuppa and a chat. They enjoyed the fire station environment and learning about of the role of the firefighters. The Watch Manager joined the group to discuss Home Fire Safety and anyone wishing a Home Fire Safety Visit was provided with literature and a contact post card.

It was a good opportunity to talk informally about the fire service to members of the public and to offer reassurance to elderly and potentially vulnerable members of our community.

The allocated time of two hours passed very quickly, with time being taken towards the end to view the fire appliance, something most of the group had never done before. It was also a chance to have a photo taken to provide a memento of their visit.

Everyone present agreed that the use of a community fire station as a venue was both suitable for the group’s needs and an interesting alternative for them, and it is hoped that this can be repeated on an annual basis.

Jim Fallon said “I was happy to have been involved and would be pleased to be involved in any future events. Being at the station as a volunteer provides a link between the past and personnel of today. It also takes some of the onus off the station. but as it happened,there were no call-outs that day and the station personnel were happy to get involved.”

If any REA members would like to get involved in this worthwhile initiative, you can find out more by visiting www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk or by emailing their Scotland Volunteer Support Officer at: Caroline.McGinlay@contact-the-elderly.org.uk.

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