Volunteer Alicia Marland joined Re-engage after watching a TV programme which highlighted how older people in care respond to the presence of children. 

Alicia, 55, is coordinator of the Oldham 2 tea party group and tries wherever possible to ensure youngsters are part of the mix when there is a get-together.

“One of our guests, Edith, is Austrian so my teenage daughter, who is learning German, takes the opportunity to speak to her at the tea parties, which is nice to see,” she said.

“And one of the hosts has two primary school children who are sometimes around. The older people love the interaction with them. It really brightens them up. And things work both ways. You sometimes don’t appreciate the lives others have had, but you can learn so much from them.”

Alicia, who has run the Oldham group for six years and is a local borough and parish councillor, is looking to expand but needs more volunteer drivers and hosts.

“It would be fantastic if we could get a second group started,” she added. “I would be more than happy to help someone set it up. As long as you are organised it’s absolutely brilliant.

“We celebrate birthdays, play bingo or do quizzes and celebrate Christmas with a group meal. Sometimes I take Edith to a carvery, and she loves it. The tea parties are really a great way for older people to socialise and enjoy themselves.”

Edith, 97, who came over from Austria to work in a cotton mill in Shaw, Oldham, in 1954 said: “I enjoyed myself so much I never went back.

“I live alone so it’s good to get out and go to one of the tea parties. You get to meet people, which is the main thing. They are so good they should happen more frequently!”

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