Brew Monday is naturally a good day for a relaxing cup of tea. But socialising on a Sunday also has its merits, as perfectly illustrated by the thousands of older people who enjoy a monthly get-together organised by Re-engage volunteers.

Since 1965, when Re-engage started as Contact the Elderly, countless social gatherings have been organised across the UK from the snowy peaks of Aviemore, through Northumberland and Newcastle down to the West Country, Wales and even Jersey.

There are around 420 tea party groups run by 4,600 volunteers from wide and varied backgrounds. Some have been, or still are, doctors, nurses, social workers, professors, business executives, teachers, gardeners, delivery drivers, mothers and fathers. Their ages range from mid-20s to 80s.

It would be impossible to calculate the number of teacups that have been drained over the last 59 years but there are currently 2,700 older people aged 75 and over who are still enjoying a brew at the regular social events.

And it’s not just the tea that keeps them coming back for more.

Nearly all tea party guests say the Sunday gatherings give them something to look forward to – a special occasion when they can dress up. They also make friends, feel happier and a part of the community. As one 86-year-old said: “The tea parties make me feel alive.”

Our volunteers, who provide a location for the social occasions and drive the older people to and from the venues, unanimously say they feel they are making a difference and are ‘giving something back.’

With mobility problems, vanishing transport links and meeting centre closures, many of our older people spend the vast majority of their time at home, often seeing no one for days on end. Re-engage tea parties are a lifeline for many older people who still crave company and the chance to reminisce with peers.

One tea party organiser said: “The guests are always champing at the bit to get together again. A lot of them have led amazing lives, even if they don’t say as much when you first chat. Often, it’s when I’ve been driving people home that I get to hear their stories and I’m always so pleased I made the effort to ask.

“We had one gentleman who’d been on an Arctic Convoy during the Second World War, a woman who worked for the foreign office in Moscow and New York and one 92-year-old lady was a radiographer – she must have been one of the first.

“Our guests can also be absolutely hilarious too. These people have lived!"

Rene, 82, who has attended tea parties for several years, said: "You feel a real sense of excitement to see everyone. It's a lovely atmosphere. We so enjoy the youngsters, the babies of the volunteers. They say they like hearing about our lives, but we like hearing about theirs too."

And 96-year-old Ina said: "When you get to my age, all you do is look back on the life you had but Re-engage has given me something to look forward to, something to live for."

Contact us

We have teams across the UK.


7 Bell Yard


0800 716543

Office phone:

020 7240 0630