Catering Students Serve Up a Treat


Students from Gateshead College along with volunteers from Contact the Elderly, a national charity working to combat social isolation amongst older people, recently hosted afternoon tea for 20 older members of the Tyne & Wear community.

The older guests along with their student hosts enjoyed an afternoon of conversation, tea and cake in the college’s student run restaurant, Enfields. The food for the afternoon tea was prepared and served by catering students studying at the college.  

This is the second consecutive year that the students have supported the charity and the now annual afternoon tea party is a great chance for them to meet older members of their community, absorb some of their wisdom and hear their stories.

Eric Sampson, an older guest at the Gateshead College afternoon tea party, said: “The students put on a lovely party for us, and the tea and cakes were delicious! It was so refreshing to be able to meet lots of younger people from our community. I had some great conversations and a wonderful afternoon.”

The older guests came from four of Contact the Elderly’s local groups in the area. The charity puts on free monthly tea parties across the UK, providing a vital social connection for over 6,100 older people each month, supported by a national volunteer network of over 11,000.

The tea parties take place in a different volunteer’s house every month, and the charity provides each older guest with a volunteer driver to ensure that any older person suffering from loneliness can benefit from the charity’s service, regardless of their financial or mobility situations.

Lucy Eager, organiser of the Gateshead College Tea Party and a long-standing Contact the Elderly volunteer, said: “I’m so glad we’ve been able to put on this inter-generational tea party for the second year running. It’s amazing to see such a range of people from our community coming together, sharing their experiences and enjoying an afternoon with each other. The students were brilliant, and it was obvious just how much the older guests enjoyed the afternoon.”

Alistair Gilchrist, the Curriculum Leader for Catering at the college said: “Hosting the afternoon tea at Enfield’s Kitchen was a great opportunity for us to support Contact the Elderly and the fantastic work they do with older people.  It was also a chance for our students to build up real-life experiences, enhance their hospitality skills and showcase what they have learnt so far on the course.”