Harthill Tea Day Social Club

Harthill Tea Day Social Club is a community group which run fortnightly tea days for elderly people in Harthill, Tiverton and the surrounding areas, as well as also arranging trips for their members.

The group has been running for 67 years and was originally set up as an over 60s social club in 1951. More recently however, they have lowered their age qualification so anyone who is 50 or older can attend.

The club has also shifted its focus towards actively addressing social isolation rather than just being a social event. Social Isolation became a focus of the club as it is one of the main issues facing rural villages. The tea days and other events throughout the year allow isolated individuals to meet with people, make new friends and get support. This is especially important for those individuals who may have lost their partners or who live on their own.

Since 2014 the clubs’ membership numbers have more than doubled and the club currently has seven members who are in their 90s. They currently have around 70 members with the attendance of the tea days normally being between 50 and 60. This recent increase in their membership has posed a number of problems in regards to paying for transport and subsidising trips.

The trips arranged by the club for their members help them keep active and provide them with a means of leaving their local area to do something different. They offer a range of different options for these trips including travelling to garden centres, seeing cultural attractions, visiting the seaside or just arranging travel for the group to go for a meal. The club has already planned a number of trips for 2018 including a visit to Southport.

Harthill tea day social club applied for funding from the Loscar Wind Farm Community Fund and received a grant of £3,642. This was used to help pay for the use of the local village hall where the tea days are held, and to allow them to pay for the food and drinks they put on for members attending tea days.

The clubs Chair, Christine Conacher said:
“We are extremely grateful for receiving the funding as in recent years we have found it harder to maintain a steady stream of one-off donations from local businesses and individuals due to the financial climate. As such, we found ourselves in dire straits last September and believed that we might be forced to close or run sessions less frequently if we couldn’t find funding.”

Since then however the club has flourished with the help of the recent funding. The club organisers also credit the expansion of their age range and their efforts to re-brand the club as a social gathering, which was advertised in local newspapers and newsletters. This advertising and ‘re-branding’ has also resulted in a marked increase in the attendance of men at the tea days.

Christine continued:
“I would love for the club to keep running indefinitely, to not see such a great community be left without events like this to help with social isolation. Feedback from members shows how much they value the community aspect and the ability to get out and meet with people.”

Harthill Tea Day Social Club has recently been awarded the Duke of York Community Initiative Award, recognising the excellent community work carried out by the club. The club was a clear choice for this award due to the amazing sense of community and togetherness that it fosters. This is clearly demonstrated by the 27 members of the club who volunteer together and often arrive early on tea days to help with the set up.

In the future Harthill Tea Day Social Club would love to be able to properly reinstate community transport for their more rural members, andalso want to try and carry out more trips as this will also allow them to involve the more rural members as much as possible.

They would also like to diversify the types of trips they take to better suit the capabilities of their varied members. For example, active/walking orientated trips for some of their younger members but also some trips better suited to those that are infirm or who have physical disabilities so that they aren’t left out. The club would also like to be able to arrange a Christmas meal as well as transport to help address heightened isolation around Christmas time when fewer people are able to attend the tea days due to the weather.