Westminster Tea Party
Westminster Estate, Lodge Moor, Sheffield
A fortnightly tea party for older residents seeking fun, friendship and good company.
At our local church lunch club, one of the diners told us that this was the only time she left her home to meet people during the week, so a group of us decided to do something about it.
Every fortnight on a Thursday afternoon, our tea party provides our guests with delicious cakes, endless cups of tea or coffee, good company and lots of laughs, and sometimes a pub lunch. We also have a short quiz or some other inexpensive activity, which at times can be quite raucous!
The Tea Party is held in the Community Room of the local council housing estate, which the Council kindly allows us to have rent free. Guests come from the Westminster Estate and also from the wider community of Lodge Moor. They pay £1, which is used to subsidise lunches out several times a year, which are well attended by both guests and volunteers. We have no other source of income and all the baking is donated free of charge.
The majority of our guests are in their 80s, and several are over 90, and really look forward to the tea parties. Many friendships have been formed over the years and we hope that this will continue for years to come.
Although the venture originated in our local Church, and they provide our indemnity insurance, our guests are of various faiths or none. We are self- sufficient and have also recruited additional volunteers from our local bowling club and members of the Westminster Residents Association so it is now a joint initiative.
Our success has certainly been due in no small part to our volunteers, who give their time and efforts freely; opening and preparing the room; laying the tables and providing flowers; baking
delicious and amazingly various cakes; providing fresh milk, giving lifts when necessary; etc; etc. However, the obvious enjoyment of our guests and their appreciation of our efforts makes it so very worthwhile.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
We would dearly love to provide a more varied entertainment programme and would use the funding to achieve this. Our ideas include musical entertainment, a humorous local story teller, a Christmas Party and possibly one in the Summer too (we require funding for this because we are not allowed to serve higher risk savoury foods due to food hygiene regulations). We would also like to introduce some demonstrations of crafts and encourage participation if possible.
The funding would also be used to provide transport to enable our guests to enjoy afternoon tea in other settings slightly further afield, eg local garden centres or to see the Christmas lights.
At present we do not have a web-site, or any other internet presence. This could be worthwhile to reach, if not potential guests, their relatives, and could result in information about us reaching a wider audience. At present we only advertise in the Church magazine and in the Community Room we use for meetings. If our bid was successful, some of the funding could enable us to import expertise to set up our own site or a Facebook presence.
"It is the most welcoming and entertaining event. The selection of pastries and buns are amongst the best I have ever had, and since I was a baker/confectioner, I think I’m in a position to judge! Long may it continue.
Derek W, 85, guest.
A lovely way of getting out and meeting other people, who are in the same situation. So many families live and work long distances away, which means older people are on their own a lot.
Margaret , 93, guest.
I never used to be particularly sociable and I didn’t know what I was missing until I joined Westminster Tea Party. The volunteers do a wonderful job and everyone appreciates it.
Jo C, 88, guest.
I enjoy the homemade cakes as I can no longer bake. I like meeting up with the friends I have made here. I have been coming for 3 years since I lost my husband.
Helen, 92, guest."
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