Sussex Police helped to raise almost £30,000 in 2019 for a charity working to combat loneliness among the elderly, launching new groups in Crawley, Crowborough and Berwick.

Chief Constable Giles York was delighted to hand the money over to Re-engage – his chosen charity of the year for 2019 – at Sussex Police headquarters in Lewes on Tuesday (February 25).

Re-engage, formerly known as Contact the Elderly, is a registered 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.

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.”

Sussex Police helped to raise £28,454.84 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.

CC Giles York added: “Our aim was to raise enough money to launch three new Re-engage groups in Crawley, Crowborough and Berwick. The new Crawley group was set up and established early in 2019 thanks to the sterling efforts of police staff member Mandy Spencer, who took on joint responsibility for the group co-ordinator role.

“Superintendent James Collis hosted the launch party and I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend the tea party and meet the elderly guests who were all thrilled to be part of this new group.

“We have now raised the necessary funds for the charity to launch the final two groups in Berwick and Crowborough, which is excellent news.”

Sussex Police celebrated the culmination of its year of support by hand-delivering some Christmas hampers to each of the Re-engage groups, allowing each of the elderly guests supported by the charity to receive a nice surprise and gift at Christmas.

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.

“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.”