Raise a cuppa to help reduce loneliness in Norwich

The Cuppa Care Project has been launched to tackle loneliness and isolation in Norwich.

The Cuppa Care Project has been launched to tackle loneliness and isolation in Norwich. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Derek James asks us to raise a cup, a “Cuppa Care,” and join him in a toast….to the Rotary club celebrating its centenary by helping others.

There can never be enough space….to tell of the support, encouragement and out and out help  to people of all ages at home and across the world that the Rotary Club of Norwich has spearheaded.

From the people of Norfolk and Norwich to the children in Africa and so many more.

It is quite extraordinary to consider what they have achieved since being formed following a gathering at the Royal Hotel in Norwich of 1922.

While so many organisations have fizzled out, Rotary has changed with the times but in doing so has never forgotten the motto “Service above Self.” Three words which say so much.

The club was the first of its kind in East Anglia – and now there are 66 clubs with around 1,700 members who raise funds and volunteer for many good causes at home and abroad.

Over the last 100 years the club has come to the aid of so many organisations and international causes in areas such as health, poverty, education, humanitarian projects and disaster relief across the world.

Completed Resource and Assessment Centre in Ho, Ghana

Completed Resource and Assessment Centre in Ho, Ghana. - Credit: Mark Templeman

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People in India, Ghana, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Malawi, The Philippines, Haiti and many more have been helped by club members in Norwich.

In 1971, thanks to the much-loved Percy Howes, Rotary Court was opened and six years later wonderful Rotary House for the Deaf opened its doors on King Street in the city.

And so much more…

It was in 1993 that the club voted to invite lady members – and since then there have been, and are, amazing female ambassadors.

The likes of the late, great Hilary King, a leading member and former president who organised the Rotary Young Leaders Award scheme and the Young Citizen’s Award.

An evening with Britain’s Got Talent winner, Colin Thackery - raising money for the Boudicca Appeal

An evening with Britain’s Got Talent winner, Colin Thackery - raising money for the Boudicca Appeal. - Credit: Mark Templeman

The club joined forces with other clubs to raise large sums of money for the Boudicca Appeal to create a dedicated breast cancer unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

And so much more.

The President of the Rotary Club of Norwich who is leading the Cuppa Care campaign across Norfolk, Aliona Derrett.

The President of the Rotary Club of Norwich who is leading the Cuppa Care campaign across Norfolk, Aliona Derrett. - Credit: Rotary Club of Norwich

The president in this centenary year is Aliona Derrett and she has been telling me about Cuppa Care.

“To commemorate our first 100 years we have initiated a long-lasting project – Cuppa Care – that focuses upon ‘preventing and reducing social isolation and loneliness in Norwich,” she said.

This may be caused through poverty, disability, age, gender, lack of accessible local support and information services, remoteness, poor transport or other needs.

“To achieve our aim of preventing loneliness and isolation in our city and county, we are working jointly on the Cuppa Care project with a number of well-known, established and experienced local organisations,” said Aliona.

Planting Crocus bulbs at the Nelson School

Planting Crocus bulbs at the Nelson School. - Credit: Mark Templeman

They include Hear for Norfolk (Norfolk Deaf Association), Vision Norfolk (NNAB), Age UK Norwich and Norfolk, Norfolk LGBT+Project, Norfolk Citizens Advice Bureau, Norfolk & Waveney Mind and the county Wellbeing Service.

The common objective that all partners in this project share is the prevention and reduction of loneliness and isolation experience by the people of Norfolk.

The plan is to buy a vehicle which will be converted into a purpose-built Cuppa care bus equipped with a whole ranges of information and facilities for making refreshments. The whole idea is to bring the community across Norfolk together…more important than ever today.

Above all it is about companionship and reducing loneliness and isolation.

“Whilst the project was initiated by our club in Norwich, the plan from the outset was to take the Cuppa Care bus to various locations across Norfolk, therefore making the service accessible and available to our urban and rural communities,” said Aliona.

At the moment Cuppa Care is operating from a van borrowed from Hear for Norfolk while members wait for a new one to be delivered and converted…and that is going to cost money.

The capital and operational costs mount up but what a wonderful project – Norfolk people helping each other and introducing a service which, to some, will be a lifeline.

The club is also looking for people who would be interested to volunteer on the bus and training and support will be given.

To celebrate the centenary the Rotary Club of Norwich is holding a celebratory funding raising dinner at Norwich City Football Club on May 14 where the speaker will be General Richard Dannatt, Baron Dannatt, and entertainment will be provided by the RAF Honington Band.

If you would like to help in any way, make a donation or attend the dinner, please go to cuppacarenorfolk@gmail.com and for more about the 100-year-old Rotary Club of Norwich click on www.rotaryclubnorwich.co.uk