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Under the Comm-Uni-Tea project, an army of student volunteers served-up the treat for 16 residents of Sarl-Williams Court and Homedee House in the city’s Garden Quarter.

Guests enjoyed a variety of cakes and bakes with tea and coffee at the festive event, held at Homedee House earlier this month – and a surprise musical interlude.

In the run-up to the party, the students set up a donation point at the University’s Queen’s Park Campus, where fellow students and staff were encouraged to drop off small gifts that were given to the residents.

Volunteer Co-ordinator Shaunagh Smith said the residents were both surprised and delighted with the tea party. She said: “It was a great occasion and the residents absolutely loved it.

“One resident gave a speech about how unexpected the afternoon was – they thought students were just going along for a chat. Everyone appreciated the fact that the student volunteers had gone above and beyond to make the afternoon so special and said they would love to do it again sometime.”

BA Adult Nursing student Samantha Seagrave, a Nursing Assistant at the Countess of Chester Hospital, organised the cakes and bakes donations.  Samantha, who also made reindeer chocolate gifts for the residents, said: “Being an adult student nurse and working within the NHS, I regularly come in contact with members of the community who feel isolated from their local community and society as a whole.

“Getting involved in the project meant I could give something back to those vulnerable members of our local community, to show they are not forgotten and that there are people who care about their welfare and place in society.”

To make the occasion extra seasonal, the guests were serenaded by members of the University’s Barbershop Singers and Orchestral Society.  They sang along to traditional Christmas songs and carols and the afternoon ended with the students and residents socialising.

Psychology student Olivia Williamson, President of the University of Chester Barbershop Singers, said: “The Singers had an absolutely fantastic time at the Comm-Uni-Tea event. We hope the residents had as good a time as we did!

“We really enjoyed branching out and getting to know another part of Chester’s community – as a chorus of young singers, it's so important to give back and this event was really about spreading some joy. We’ve already talked about being involved in more of these events.” 

Event co-organiser Andrea Vasarhelyi-Szilagyi, a second year Event Management and International Tourism Management student from Hungary, said: “This project shows that community events bring different age groups together. When we see the guests' happy faces and as they sing along with us, it’s easy to see why this project motivates us. Our next project will be in March and we cannot wait to welcome more guests and create a positive difference in their lives.”

Co-organiser, Romanian student Izabela Farkas, who studies Accounting and Finance, added: "It was so rewarding to see that we made people happy and I am proud to be part of this project."

Sylvia, a Homedee House resident, said she hopes there will be more opportunities to socialise with the students.She added: “I thoroughly enjoyed the tea party. The students were great, so friendly and generous and I hope we can do this again.”

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