You and Me and Afternoon Tea
How did it all come about?
What are the needs of older people in the community? This was the question we asked of Dr Jolliffe, the lead GP in the Barrow area – and his answer was, from the NHS point of view, keeping warm, eating well, and avoiding falls. We asked this question after South West Cumbria United Area (SWCUA) had done an informal survey what was on offer for older people in the 13 Methodist and United Reformed churches comprising SWCUA. There was plenty going on – Tea and Chat, Knit and Natter, monthly lunches, coffee mornings to which their own members or members of the general public could attend. But we wanted to try and find out how the churches could be more involved with older people in the community, hence our meeting with Dr Jolliffe, which led to the formation of a multi agency group of representatives from SWCUA, the NHS (public health), Barrow Borough Council, Furness Carers, and Age UK.
What it is?
You and Me and Afternoon Tea – a two hour programme of various activities, ending with afternoon tea – is the event which came out of that group’s discussions. Originally it was part of a general ‘winter warmth’ initiative and the aim was to offer the chance for older people to meet and socialise in a warm building (one of our churches), to enjoy slideshows, quizzes and games, and to combine this with health-related talks and activities. Afternoon Tea and time to chat with Neighbourhood Wardens, Cumbria Fire Service, Police, the Parish Nursing Team and Furness Carers ended the sessions.
When did it start?
The first You, Me and Afternoon Tea was in January 2012 at Ramsden Street URC on three consecutive Wednesday afternoons. The event was well attended (around 40 people each week) and successful. Those present really appreciated, for instance, the short talk from the police on how to handle ‘cold calling’, the advice given by a member of the fire service on smoke alarms, the demonstration of chair based exercises and instructions on how best to get up from a chair to avoid falling. Several people asked for information and support on a range of older people’s issues: for further details on welfare benefits advice or debt, for advice on disability assistance or for general older people’s advice and details of the handy person scheme. Others requested a visit from a support worker from Furness Carers or a free fire survey on their home. All of these requests were passed on to the relevant organisations.
We had a lot of interest in the event from the local media, with good coverage on Radio Cumbria and a double page feature in The North West Evening Mail.
Pictures courtesy of North-West Evening Mail.
The church representatives have found it a great pleasure to work with the representatives of the other agencies. We have found out a lot about their work in the community. The wide range of experience and knowledge within the group enabled the programme of events at You and Me and Afternoon Tea to be specifically tailored to the needs of the older person. The social isolation felt by many older people is well known, as are the benefits to general health and wellbeing of going out and meeting other people.
Following the first You, Me and Afternoon Tea (YMAT) at Ramsden Street, a well-attended weekly meeting on a Wednesday was set up there, then Dalton URC hosted YMAT from which came its popular weekly Thursday Club for older people. Askam and Vickerstown Methodist Church then ran the event followed by Beacon Hill Methodist Church which resulted in the establishment of Monday Magic, a fortnightly meeting for older people with a varied programme. After holding YMAT at Trinity Church Centre, a monthly social meeting called TwoforT was set up.