Supporting good causes in and around Hounslow is a big part of the mayor's role.

Each year, the incoming mayor chooses two charities to raise money for and help boost their public profile. Such backing can make all the difference for local trusts often surviving on a shoe string.

New mayor Nisar Malik's chosen charities for 2015/16 are Contact the Elderly and Hounslow Toy Library.

Here we take a look at the work they do in the borough:

Contact the Elderly

Contact the Elderly organises tea parties for people aged 75 and over, many of whom spend the majority of their days alone.

The monthly Sunday afternoon get-togethers are a precious opportunity for often lonely and isolated guests to enjoy some companionship and forge new friendships.

In Hounslow, the charity runs two groups, attended by around 18 people between them. There is already a waiting list for places and the borough's ageing population means that is likely to grow.

To launch new groups locally, Contact the Elderly needs more volunteers willing to host the parties, and, crucially, drivers to ferry the guests to and from the venue.

Jane Vasudevan, who runs the Hounslow groups, said: "Many of the guests don't have any regular contact with family or friends, so these tea parties are really important to them.

"I think the words of one of our older guests to her volunteer driver best express what these tea parties mean to people. She said: 'When you knocked on my door five years ago you changed my life forever and gave me something to belong to'.

"We know there's a demand for new groups here but we need to recruit more volunteers to do that. We'd love to hear from anyone who thinks they might be able to help."

Contact the Elderly has only 30 paid employees nationally but a huge team of 7,500 volunteers helping transform the lives of older people.

For more information about volunteering, or if you know an elderly person who might benefit, call Jane Vasudevan on 020 7240 0630, email or visit

Hounslow Toy Library

Hounslow Toy Library provides toys, books and DVDs for youngsters with disabilities, but it is much more than just a lending service.

The charity's play sessions give parents or carers the chance to take a break and get to know other families like them.

Its staff are also able to help choose the best toys to develop children's skills, letting them learn as they play.

Formed in 1976 by local parents because there was nothing like it in the area, it is preparing to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Practitioners Lucy Collins and Cathy Quinn said: "We offer a break from appointments, assessments and diagnoses, providing a home from home for many people.

"The service has made and continues to make a real difference to so many people's lives, and we would like to thank the mayor for making us one of his chosen charities."

They recalled how a two-year-old boy with autism had turned up many years ago. They said his mother was feeling "lost and alone", and it was only five minutes before he had to leave because he found it too stressful.

Now 16, they said he was still coming to the play sessions, where he now stays for around 90 minutes and interacts with staff, volunteers and other young people - "a world away from those early fraught days".

The toy library is based in Inwood Park, Inwood Road, Hounslow, where play sessions take place every Wednesday, from 9.30am-12.30pm, and Thursday, from 1.30pm-5pm.

The charity receives a small council grant, and there is a £2 yearly subscription fee for parents, but it needs to raise at least £15,000 a year to keep running.

For more information about Hounslow Toy Library, drop in to one of the play sessions, call 020 8569 5451 or visit