Norwich friendship group Contact the Elderly calls for more volunteers to help it survive

A friendship group for vulnerable elderly residents has warned it could close if more volunteers are not found.

Contact the Elderly's Norwich branch currently gives five elderly ladies the chance to enjoy days out and socialise with each other at tea parties.

But the group says it desperately needs more helpers as dwindling support has meant the group is in danger of closing.

It is also unable to care for any new members, due to the lack of volunteers.

The charity's city branch has just three hosts to entertain the elderly ladies and one driver to transport them there.

This is short of the group's target of six hosts and four drivers to help up to eight elderly ladies.

Ann Spaul said she joined the charity as a volunteer driver after seeing an advertisement.

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But the 69-year-old has also been organising the once-a-month Sunday trips for the last five years.

She says now it is up to her and husband Malcolm, 70, to keep the group going.

Mrs Spaul said: 'At the moment we are running it single-handedly as we can't get volunteers. It's a bit difficult and my husband takes his car so we have two cars when we pick the ladies up and take them to tea parties.

'All of our group are ladies and they love the trips. They look forward to them and although some go to other groups, it's probably the only time they go out. They are trapped in their house quite a lot.

'It's difficult to let them down. We keep struggling on. It's very positive from our point of view. They have a tea party, a piece of cake and I think all the hostesses get a lot out of it as they enjoy it.

'It's not hard work to be a hostess once a year. We only do it once a month and it's not any great expense.'

Connie Gifford, 88, of Norwich, is one of the charity's Norwich members and said she was hoping the group survived.

Mrs Gifford added she understood times were tough financially but the group appreciated the efforts of the volunteers.

She said: 'Ann and her husband have kept it going. We are very lucky these people help us. They have said they enjoy our company. We don't have to pay a penny for this entertainment and these lovely teas. It's so kind of people to do it.'

Linda Braeburn, Contact the Elderly development officer for Eastern England, said: 'We currently have one group in Norwich, which is in danger of closing unless we attract more volunteer drivers and hosts, as well as a group coordinator.

'Our volunteers genuinely gain as much enjoyment as the older guests and it is not a huge time commitment.' Anyone who would like to help should call (01279) 417264 or e-mail