Re-engaging in the outside world – Police cash will help charity extend its work

Sussex Police helped to raise almost £30,000 last year for a charity working to combat loneliness among the elderly.

Chief Constable Giles York handed the money over to Re-engage – his chosen charity of the year for 2019 – at Sussex Police headquarters in Lewes on Tuesday.

Re-engage, formerly known as Contact the Elderly, is a charity that exists to help the 500,000 older people living in the UK who say they go five or six days a week without speaking to anyone.

Chief Constable Giles York hands over a cheque to Kitty Blackwell of Re-engage

It has a very simple concept which involves organising monthly tea parties for people over the age of 75. Guests are paired with volunteer drivers who take them to and from tea parties. The parties are held in the homes of host volunteers, who provide food and sometimes a fun activity.

Chief Constable Giles York said: “Loneliness is damaging to both mental and physical health so by providing regular face-to-face contact, the charity empowers their older guests to improve their quality of life.

“This is such important work and valued by so many people, not just in Sussex but across the country.

“Having Re-engage as my charity for the past year has been rewarding in bringing new energy to groups with older guests, being able to make them safer against unscrupulous criminals and having fun raising money for a great cause.

“Thank you to all the Sussex Police personnel who helped raise this sum, and to the members of the public who also supported the cause.”

The charity exists to help the 500,000 older people living in the UK who say they go five or six days a week without speaking to anyone.

Sussex Police helped to raise more than £28,000 for the charity through a number of fundraising initiatives including selling mugs, light up pens, scarves, elf letters, Christmas cards and pin badges, and by organising a number of events including a charity quiz night, bingo night, charity golf day, Christmas Extravaganza concert and numerous cake sales.

This was made possible thanks to a number of keen and enthusiastic Sussex Police personnel who volunteered their spare time and energy to help support the Chief Constable’s chosen charity.

In addition to the money raised, Sussex Police colleagues have worked hard to raise awareness of the charity, helping to recruit volunteer group co-ordinators, tea party hosts and drivers, as well as signposting lonely and vulnerable older people to the charity as potential guests. On top of that, officers have provided valuable fraud prevention advice and training to the local group co-ordinators who will share this knowledge with their guests.

Mr York added: “Our aim was to raise enough money to launch three new Re-engage groups in the county.”

Sussex Police raised a total of £28,454.84.

Kitty Blackwell, director of fundraising and communications at Re-engage, said: “On behalf of our older guests, volunteers and all of us at Re-engage we say a heartfelt thank you to the Chief Constable, Charity Committee and all the police officers and staff members who so enthusiastically and creatively supported the partnership over the year.

“The generosity of the force has enabled us to bring company and friendship to some of the most vulnerable and isolated older people in Sussex – people who spend days at a time not seeing anyone to talk to and who experience chronic isolation as a daily reality.

“The partnership brought particular added value through the excellent work that has been done to encourage volunteers to come forward to support our social groups, to direct older people to Re-engage, and warn against the dangers of fraud, with officers and members of the Police Cadets giving practical advice to our older guests.

“Among many initiatives, a highlight was the Christmas gifts organised by Sussex Police for each of our older guests. Christmas can be a very difficult time for those on their own and to feel valued and remembered was magical.”

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