The project fighting loneliness one cuppa at a time

Aliona Derrett, far right, and Duncan Baker, centre, with supporters of Royary's Cuppa Care project, at a visit in Holt. 

Aliona Derrett, far right, and Duncan Baker, centre, with supporters of Royary's Cuppa Care project, at a visit in Holt. - Credit: Supplied by Aliona Derrett

Fighting loneliness and isolation in Norfolk's towns and villages is the goal of a new project being piloted in the north of the county. 

The Rotary Club of Norwich has launched 'Cuppa Care' to mark its centenary, which falls on January 22 next year. 

The Cuppa Care sessions are taking place in different locations giving people somewhere to go for a chat, a brew and also find out about health or social services they may need.

Aliona Derrett, Rotary Norwich branch president, said: "We know that loneliness and isolation are widespread. Cromer Foodbank highlighted to us the rates of people who feel isolated, and it's not just because of Covid. 

"People enjoy having a chat with somebody in a friendly and relaxing environment, and if anyone has additional needs we can help address those."

Ms Derrett is also chief executive of Hear for Norfolk - whose vehicle is being used for the Cuppa Care sessions -  and other partner charities include Vision Norfolk, Age UK Norwich, Norfolk LGBT+ Project, Norfolk Citizens Advice Bureau, Norfolk and Waveney Mind.

Rotary plans to fundraise for a dedicated Cuppa Care bus, which would cost around £51,000 to buy and fit out and just under £50,000 a year to operate.

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Duncan Baker, North Norfolk MP, backs the project and plans to visit a Cuppa Care visit to Cromer on August 23.

Mr Baker said: "Loneliness and isolation is a real problem in our rural communities and it has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

"Given that North Norfolk has a particularly older population, I’d really keen to help Rotary and anything we can do to ensure our older citizens do not feel that there isn’t a friendly helping hand there for them."

Ms Derrett said poverty, disability, age, gender, lack of accessible local support and information services, geographical remoteness and poor transport were among the many causes of loneliness and isolation.

Upcoming Cuppa Care visits will include: Cromer Methodist church car park, August 23, September 30, October 25, 1pm to 3pm; The Venue in Holt, August 23, September 20, October 25, 10am-midday.

For more details, visit the Hear-for-Norfolk-NDA Facebook page.