SWINGING to the Rat Pack and doo-wopping along to Out of the Blue are just some of the experiences older people who live alone in Edinburgh have enjoyed thanks to a donation of Edinburgh Fringe Festival Vouchers to Contact the Elderly.
The charity, which organises free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for almost 100 older people in the capital, received £1800 of Edinburgh Fringe vouchers, as well as bus tickets, as part of the festival’s outreach programme to mark its 70th anniversary.
Irene, 86, and Flo, 83, visited their very first Fringe show with their volunteer driver Eve Dick.
Irene said: “I had a fantastic time. I haven’t been to a Fringe show for many years as I find it more difficult to get out of the house now, and hadn’t really considered going to anything in the festival.”
Flo added: “I am so glad that I was able to take up this generous offer with Eve’s help, it was really lovely. I recently moved to Edinburgh and have never been to the Fringe before. Irene and I are very grateful to Eve, Contact the Elderly and Edinburgh Fringe for making this possible.”
Eve has driven Flo and Irene to Contact the Elderly’s monthly afternoon tea parties since their group launched earlier this year. She said:
“Edinburgh is abuzz in August but it is something that many older people miss out on. We had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. This generous gesture of free vouchers is very much appreciated.
“The staff were extremely helpful and took Irene and Flo up in the lift at the appropriate time and the first couple of rows were designated for disabled access, so it was all a lot easier than I had envisaged. They are both very good company so we had a great girls’ afternoon out.”
Jean, 88, watched the Rat Pack perform with her volunteer driver Pam Learmonth. She said: “I had a fantastic time. I love going to a Fringe show but I find it more difficult to get out of the house now, and never go out alone in the evening.
“The singers were lovely and though I am in my 80s, I felt as though I was 18 again listening to them perform the music I love. I am so glad that I was able to take up this generous offer.”
Contact the Elderly has 21 groups in Edinburgh, giving older people who live alone the opportunity to enjoy an afternoon out of the house once a month in the company of others in their position, as well as with volunteers from all backgrounds. A volunteer driver collects one or two guests and accompanies them to a volunteer host’s home for an afternoon of tea, cake and conversation.
Jennifer Kaney, Development Officer at Contact the Elderly, said: “This incredibly generous donation has been very well-received by our guests and volunteers and we would like to offer our sincere thanks.
“One of the main issues facing many of our guests is the monotony of life in older age when they are less able to get out and about. That is why outings such as these, as well as our tea parties, make such a difference. Breaking the cycle of social isolation and enjoying life is so important in terms of mental and physical health.”