Last week, I was fortunate to be present at a tea party hosted and organised by Jewish Care volunteers.
Every few weeks, at different hosts’ houses, more senior members of our community, on the Jewish Care radar, are invited to mix with their peers and simply enjoy a homely environment, different to the more prosaic one offered by a shul hall, or day centre. And of course, there’s the obligatory food element to the occasion, a delicious and plentiful tea.
Volunteer co-ordinator Louise Bronstein ensured everything ran smoothly, whilst a team of volunteer drivers collected people from their homes in a carefully co-ordinated operation to ensure their safety, comfort and arrival in a timely manner.
The guests’ elation to be out and about and feeling recognised was clearly evident from the moment they entered the house.
These were not people to be patronised or seeking pity and handouts. They were beautifully attired, stylish and vibrant characters. They all had amazing stories to tell. This, for them, was Facebook in the Flesh. A forum to be able to express themselves and feel part of something. We all crave this social interaction and a need to be recognised but they still do it the old fashioned way, whilst helping to deter the inevitable loneliness that can come with age. This togetherness can trigger or revive their spark as many of their families are often overseas and far away, and I witnessed this happening with pronounced results.
I spoke to Stanley with his tales of over forty years in gentlemen’s hairdressing in the heart of the West End. His own hair still immaculate and his love for his old trade as strong as ever. He entered our conversation with a prowess and genuine interest in my own life and family. Still a real pro.
Carmel wasn’t an ‘old lady’ but a glamorous, sincere woman with a joie de vivre which I’m sure these gatherings help to keep illuminated.
Mark worked in men’s tailoring. He loved to talk of these past times ‘the nostalgia keeps me going’ he openly stated. And this was the perfect environment for him to do just that.
Needless to say, as the afternoon drew to a close, there was plenty of food leftover and each guest was sent home with a food parcel of bridge rolls and homemade cake.
The social media platforms can expose us to a lot of trivia or negativity that can sap our energy and consume time better used in other areas.
I was uplifted and empowered to see, first hand, little pockets of our community making such a huge difference to many people’s lives. These are the faces which truly command a stream of ‘likes’.