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Afternoon tea treat for Peer Friendship volunteers

Ageing Better Middlesbrough’s Peer Friendship project has held a special afternoon tea event as a thank you to those who have offered their time as volunteers for the scheme since it got underway in December 2015.

Ageing Better Middlesbrough is a six year, £6 million programme working to reduce loneliness and social isolation for people aged 50 and over in Middlesbrough. It’s made up of several different projects and organisations working together to support and empower local older people. 

Actes and Volunteering Matters delivers the Peer Friendship element of the project by recruiting and supporting Peer Friendship volunteers who commit their time to support people to feel less lonely and isolated, helping them to reconnect with other people and / or activities in their local community.  Since the project’s inception the Peer Friendship volunteers have committed over 400 hours of time to support the scheme, helping 56 beneficiaries in the process.

The afternoon tea took place at Acklam Green Centre and was organised by the Peer Friendship team to show their gratitude for the volunteer’s support and was attended by a number of volunteers, some of who attended with the beneficiaries they are befriending.  Café Connect based at the centre provided a traditional afternoon tea of cakes, scones and finger sandwiches for the guests to enjoy.

Margaret Annett, 66, from Easterside became a Peer Friendship Volunteer in February and spends two afternoons a week with beneficiaries Sharon and Jean. She said: “I was looking for something to do in my retirement and heard about Peer Friendship at a WI event. My time can be spent just talking, running errands together or shopping, whatever the ladies need. I get as much out of the volunteering as the beneficiaries; it’s a chance to do something nice with other people and if they get something out of it that’s a bonus. It’s mutually beneficial.

“I’ve also enjoyed the training elements of the scheme, it’s been a chance to get the brain back in gear having worked all of my life.”

Sixty-seven year-old Terry Bytheway from Coulby Newham is a Peer Friendship volunteer alongside his wife Yvonne. They have been supporting Alan from the start of the year and both parties have developed a new lease of life since getting involved with the project.

Terry said: “Yvonne and I were already volunteering at James Cook Hospital and were looking for a way to support people discharged from hospital in their homes, so volunteered with Peer Friendship as a way of potentially doing that. In the meantime we were put in touch with Alan who was wanting to become more active and regain some independence after losing his wife eight years ago.  We meet every Thursday and go out for a drive to different places in the countryside and coast like Thirsk, Saltburn and Richmond that Alan enjoyed visiting with his wife. With Alan as our guide we’ve enjoyed exploring places we’d never been before so it’s been a really positive experience for us too; it’s very much a two-way street.”

Paula Taylor, Peer Friendship Co-ordinator for Ageing Better Middlesbrough, said: “Since the Peer Friendship project got underway we’ve been delighted with the amount of people offering their spare time to befriend some of the loneliest and isolated members of the community.  Having someone to talk to or take part in activities with can make such a big difference to people’s health and wellbeing. We’d encourage anyone looking to volunteer to get involved.

“The afternoon tea event at Acklam Green Centre was a thank you from the team and a fun get together for all involved.”

For more information on volunteering contact the Peer Friendship team on tel: 07595 453074 or email or visit the volunteering page on the Ageing Better website to download the information pack:

If you or someone you know ever feels lonely you can call the team now on 01642 257030 or join as a member at