Everyone, at some point in their lives, experiences feelings of loneliness. For some people, however, loneliness is a daily reality. This is particularly true for the elderly portion of our population.
Many elderly people live on their own because their spouse has passed away and their children have all moved out, leaving them to be alone most of the day. Physical disabilities and lack of mobility also make it difficult for them to get out, so they often end up sitting alone at home [1,2]. Marital status, self-perceived health status, income, social activity levels, and a sense of social fulfillment have been found to accurately predict whether or not an older adult feels lonely .
A brother-sister duo in London saw this happening to their own mother and decided to do something about it.
A Senior Social Club
Siblings Simon Casson and Annie Bowden wanted to help their lonely mother, so they organized a tea party and invited her friends, all of whom were in their eighties and nineties. The first party was such a success that they decided to start inviting older adults from all over the neighborhood, and the “Posh Club” was born. Today, there are five major locations all across London and the Southeast .
This is not your average tea party- the Tuesday clubs receive over a hundred guests at any of their events throughout the year, and the festivities are anything but tame. When Elvis impersonator Conrad Hamilton first began performing there, he had no idea what he was in for.
“When I first started performing here,” said Hamilton, “I thought, ‘OAPs, relaxed gig, no problem’. I could not have been more wrong. It’s the only place I’ve ever had knickers thrown at me.” 
Described as a “glamorous cabaret for older folk”, the atmosphere at the Posh Club is not that dissimilar from what you might find at a nightclub for young people. For just five dollars per person, attendees get tea, pastries, sandwiches, and champaign to fuel them through an afternoon of live music and energetic dancing .
And when they say energetic, they mean energetic. They once had to call an ambulance for a woman who was having so much fun that she forgot to take her daily medication.
“We’re probably the only club event in the world,” says producer Dicky Eaton, “where someone was rushed to hospital because they’d forgotten to take their drugs.” 
Volunteers of All Ages
The main purpose of the club, of course, is to provide the opportunity for fun and lively social interaction to a population that doesn’t often get to participate in such events. There is, however, a secondary benefit. Volunteers at the club are all ages and come from all backgrounds, which allows for cross-generational social interaction.
“I think we’ve lost a lot of interaction between the ages,” said Casson. “It’s not the type of thing that capitalism encourages.” 
Tackling Loneliness One Disco at a Time
According to the website, “The Posh Club was created to help older folks to get out and have fun. It is an older peoples’ service disguised as high tea at the Ritz, specifically designed to reach older people who might be struggling to stay active and holding them close in the heart of the community.” 
They have now hosted over two hundred events throughout London, and the benefits are innumerable.
Father Niall Weir, the rector at St, Paul’s Church, which hosts some of the events, is a vocal supporter of the organization.
“One of the biggest challenges we face is the isolation of older people. The Posh Club tackles that superbly. It gives its guests everything that is needed for human contentment: connection, laughter, physical activity. The implications it has on improving health and well-being are extraordinary.” 
This impact has far-reaching effects. Elderly people who are experiencing loneliness tend to have more physician visits and hospitalizations, and therefore higher healthcare costs . Feelings of loneliness have also been associated with an increased risk of depression and mortality in elderly populations .
The Posh Club gives senior citizens the sense that they have a community that they belong to, and combats the stereotype that they can no longer enjoy themselves, but have to sit on the sidelines and watch the younger generations have all the fun.
“I call us recycled teenagers. We’ve retired, not expired.” said 71-year-old Margaret Koroidovi .
The Future of Posh
Every event put on by the Posh Club is made possible through grants. For this reason, funding is tight and so not all locations can continuously put on events. Volunteer Dicky says that they get guests coming in from out-of-town, asking to have events in their hometowns, but they have to be careful not to spread themselves too thin or they risk losing the quality of the event.
“It would need to be quality, have the right atmosphere, be done with love – because if it doesn’t have those things it’s not The Posh Club.” 
The ambition of the organization is to open more clubs across the country, but that will only be made possible through increased awareness and donations. They hope that as the word gets out and the club’s popularity increases, they will be able to expand.
Father Weir wants to see this happen as well.
“If there was a Posh Club in every town in the UK, I’m certain the numbers of elderly on GP waiting lists would go down hugely. It is a wonderful thing.” 
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