Westminster Connects Volunteers - Silver Sunday

Fri, 02/10/2020

Westminster City Council’s army of volunteers will be packing and delivering 1,000 tea boxes to older people living on their own for this year’s Silver Sunday.

Silver Sunday is a national day of events to celebrate older people and to help combat loneliness and isolation. Age UK reports there are 1.4 million chronically lonely older people in England and with more people staying inside due to Covid-19 cases rising, Silver Sunday is more important than ever.

In Westminster, a tea dance usually takes place to celebrate the national day but due to Covid-19 restrictions, the event is unable to take place this year. Instead, those who are living alone in sheltered accommodation will be gifted with some treats to celebrate Silver Sunday, which falls on 4 October.

Westminster Connects, which was set up due to an amazing groundswell of community spirit in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, has 3,000 volunteers and many of them have signed up to help.

They will be packing supermarket goods, including tea bags, scones, pots of jam and other scrumptious treats, into the tea boxes donated by the Sir Simon Milton Foundation, which the volunteers will then deliver.

Silver Sunday is now in its ninth year and as well as Westminster Connects’ contribution, many virtual or socially-distanced outdoor activities are going ahead for older people suffering from loneliness and isolation to help them socialise, get active and learn something new. 

Plans this year include a virtual tour of the British Museum, a Cantonese Opera workshop and a dance-a-thon.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall has recorded a video message calling for everyone to take part and do something kind for an older relative, neighbour or friend for Silver Sunday.

“Silver Sunday is a day that offers us all the opportunity to focus on older people’s contributions to our communities and to our society.  As a member of Silver Sunday’s target audience, I can confirm that it is a completely brilliant initiative.       

“This year will of course be very different, with most events taking place virtually, rather than in the flesh.  Yet Silver Sunday is more important than ever.  Its aim is to tackle the blight of loneliness that affects so many, and which, very sadly, has increased significantly over the recent months of lockdown. Silver Sunday is the perfect moment to break the silence in which many live, perhaps with a phone call to a grandparent, a card to an elderly neighbour or by hosting your own virtual event.”
– HRH The Duchess of Cornwall

Cllr Mark Shearer, Westminster City Council Deputy Cabinet Member for Community Services and Digital and Lead Member for Westminster Connects, said:

“Westminster Connects volunteers are an asset to our community and once again, many of them have selflessly signed up to help others. This year, Silver Sunday is more important than ever with our elderly residents facing a difficult winter indoors with Covid-19 restrictions in place and cases increasing. But within these tough and challenging times, I hope the tea box will bring a smile to the 1,000 older residents who will receive them.”

Cllr Christabel Flight, Deputy Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health and Founder of Silver Sunday, said:

“We are hugely grateful to HRH The Duchess of Cornwall for supporting Silver Sunday. This year in particular, we have seen even more older people struggling with loneliness and unable to hug loved ones. But we have also seen a huge increase of people signing up to volunteer and heart-warming stories of community spirit. I hope everyone can join us and help make an older person smile this Silver Sunday.”

Matthew Sykes, Chief Executive, Sir Simon Milton Foundation, said:

“I can’t tell you how grateful we are to Westminster City Council, the donors who filled up the parcels and the volunteers who are putting them together and delivering them. This virus may have stopped us hosting most live events on Silver Sunday this year, but with everyone chipping in we are able to take Silver Sunday to some of the loneliest older people in the City.”

Last updated: 2 October 2020