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Liverpool Hope launches first Contact the Elderly university group to tackle loneliness in older people


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Liverpool Hope University (LHU) is the first university to launch a Contact the Elderly group on campus to provide regular friendship links with older people in the area.

On 2nd June national charity Contact the Elderly launched a new friendship group in conjunction with LHU for lonely older people living in the area, with an inaugural tea party on its campus, supported by academic staff and students.

The Vice Chancellor and Rector of LHU, Professor Gerald Pillay, his wife Nirri, staff and volunteers welcomed eleven older local residents onto the university’s magnificent campus with panoramic views across the gardens. 

Also in attendance were Contact the Elderly Founder and Chairman, Trevor Lyttleton MBE, his wife Zippi and Contact the Elderly Executive Officer for the North & Midlands, Mary Robinson. Mary Robinson provided vital support in setting up the group in liaison with Professor Pillay and Vice Dean of Students, Dr Wendy Bignold, who has generously agreed to act as coordinator for the group, with other staff and students volunteering to help organise the tea parties.

Contact the Elderly is the only national charity which, since inception, has focussed solely on tackling the loneliness of older people. Its 6,500 volunteers throughout the country organise free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people, who live alone without nearby family and friends.

Trevor Lyttleton said: “This is Contact the Elderly’s first university initiative and the first in a series of monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for the Liverpool Hope group which we know, with the support of dedicated staff and students, will continue to offer a vital lifeline of friendship to many vulnerable and isolated older people living in the local community. We are extremely grateful for their generous hospitality and for their warm welcome to all their guests.”

The Contact the Elderly model is based on a simple, yet very effective concept: once a month, each older guest is collected from their home by a volunteer driver, and taken to a volunteer host’s home, where they join a small group for tea, chat and friendship.

Professor Gerald Pillay, said: “It was a privilege to have Contact the Elderly on our campus and to be one of the first of many universities to host a group for the charity. They can count on our full support with this worthy cause.”

Trevor added: “We hope that Liverpool Hope University will be the model for many more Contact the Elderly groups in universities and colleges throughout the country, as we work towards our 50th anniversary. By 2015, our aim is to provide 60,000 individual links of friendship to older people in England, Scotland and Wales, with many more university launches following in the inspirational footsteps of Professor Pillay at Liverpool Hope University.”

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