Bingo, Scones and Reggae: Financial Ombudsman Service serving afternoon tea for east London elders in style

 In Community, News

Most Wednesdays, you’d find Ivan at the Zacchaeus Project teaching ballroom dancing. However, on 6th November, Ivan was lacing up his dancing shoes in the heart of the financial services with a live reggae band.

Service users from Hackney Caribbean Elders Organisation, St Luke’s Over 50s Group and the Zacchaeus Project joined ELBA at the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) offices for an afternoon of fun, tea and scones, bingo and dancing. With the launch of the Isolation Reduction Project, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, and ELBA’s 30th anniversary, there was no time like the present to throw a party!

The event was a huge success with many smiling faces all round and it gave older people a chance to meet new faces in a new setting. The enthusiasm of the FOS volunteers was contagious as they socialised with the guests, served refreshments, called the bingo, and got up for a dance! The live reggae band kept the hits coming and by the end of the afternoon, the dance floor was packed.

There were sentimental moments as well with guests sharing their personal stories about the experiences of living in east London. Some were born and bred in the east end and others moved here from far away. The thing they all shared though was being part of the strong community spirit in east London.

One FOS volunteer in particular, was highly nostalgic to be volunteering with ELBA again after 15 years:

“I was fortunate to be at the organisation when ELBA first visited us [15 years ago] and formed the partnership that the organisation still has today. There were some great community projects… I went with my team to a school in east London …I loved the thought of getting involved and it generated a whole new world of volunteering to me. It’s so rewarding and it’s led me to go on and do much more…

Last week I helped at an afternoon tea to commemorate 30 years of ELBA for people over the age of 55. I can really identify with this and I am aware of the loneliness some people experience and how valuable outings can mean to someone. You couldn’t put a value on it, it’s priceless! […] the afternoon was such fun and I could see how these events brighten up the days of those lucky enough to join in […]  I’m sure I’m not alone when I say it was sad to see the afternoon come to an end.”

–  Elizabeth Taylor, Data protection and FOI coordinator, Financial Ombudsman Service

The event really summed up all the aims of the Isolation Reduction Project; inclusion, socialising, expanding reach, creating opportunities and most importantly bridging the gap between communities and businesses by getting corporate volunteers engaged. The feedback from the older people and volunteers that attended proves it was a massive success:

“I’m so glad we hosted the party – I was quite overwhelmed with the feedback – especially from the volunteers. It was a real breath of fresh air for us and I hope we can organise more events like this in the future. It was really moving to see how much of a difference we can make to people’s lives within the community. It was humbling to hear such touching stories from the guests themselves. The event was a really good opportunity to appreciate the work ELBA do and how much they have made an impact on the community – especially when we can forget to pause for a moment and come together as a community in the busy world we live in.”

–  Delovan Ghafoor, Policy and communications coordinator, Financial Ombudsman Service

It is very entertaining. Everybody is so kind and friendly. I never expected to enjoy myself so much and thank you for inviting us.”

– Lucy, Hackney Caribbean Elders Organisation

Thank you for inviting me to this great event, very entertaining and informative. Has good socialisation and food was very good. Lots of thanks.

– Suman Arora, St Luke’s Over 50s Group


We hope to continue reaching out to community organisation in east London who work to support the older members in our community, as well as working directly with older people themselves to help steer this project forward with their input and needs at the forefront. 

Finally, a massive thank you to all involved; ELBA staff, FOS staff and volunteers, the community organisation staff and of course, the guests themselves! 

To find out more about the Isolation Reduction Project or how you can get involved in volunteering initiatives similar to this or if you have any ideas to contribute towards reducing isolation, please get in touch with Smera –

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