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Stephen Fry and Felicity Kendal back campaign to bring back our brew breaks

The humble tea round is a tradition that is slowly becoming extinct in today’s fast-paced busy workplace with 2.5 million workers[1] in Great Britain saying they don’t have the time to put the kettle on for their colleagues.

The research, released by older people’s charity Royal Voluntary Service, to coincide with its annual Great Brew Break event, identified the death of the communal cuppa comes despite Britons downing an average of five cups of tea or coffee a day at work, with 44 per cent consuming 5 or more cups in a working day.

And the findings indicate that the demise of the tea round may stem from the top – 40 per cent of workers claim their boss never makes them a cuppa.

A  third (34 per cent) of workers admit they would rather just make themselves a drink and get back to work  and many are resorting to underhand tactics to do just that. Common excuses deployed to get out of the tea round include waiting until people aren’t around, offering when people have just made themselves a drink and making rubbish teas and coffees so they are not asked again.

The charity, which is raising funds to support lonely older people, is calling on the nation’s bosses to lead the way in this crusade to save the tea round by pledging to make the tea for their colleagues for the Great Brew Break fundraiser.

And putting the kettle on could benefit them it seems. More than a third (37 per cent) of workers say regular communication with colleagues is important in the workplace and 41 per cent think taking short breaks during the working day is essential for concentration.

The Royal Voluntary Service Great Brew Break (28 April – 4 May) will see tea events held throughout the country to raise funds to help the charity deliver services to alleviate loneliness among older people. Nearly three-quarters of over 75s that live alone feel lonely[2].

Felicity Kendal, Royal Voluntary Service Ambassador who is supporting the campaign, said: “Time out for a cup of tea and quick chat is hugely important, especially in today’s ‘head down’ fast paced culture. It might be the time someone opens up about something that’s been bothering them or maybe you’ll get to hear about that great job that’s coming up. We all need to take a break to keep our minds focused and it’s so important that we maintain a connection with our colleagues. I’m supporting Great Brew Break to help raise vital funds for older people’s services and to help bring people back together.”

As a nation built on the tradition of a cup of tea and its enduring social warmth − Royal Voluntary Service volunteers serve thousands of cups of tea every week to those in need and its mobile tea vans were a common site as far back as wartime Britain − the looming death of the tea round represents a significant shift in the culture.

Stephen Fry, who is also supporting Great Brew Break, commented: “A cup of tea is so collectively comforting to people in Britain, that its power can never be underestimated. For older people that don’t see anyone from one day to the next a cup of tea and a chat means everything. My tea intake has increased considerably while writing my book and I will certainly be raising a mug to Great Brew Break in April. No matter who you are, a good brew break helps keep you going.”

Royal Voluntary Service Chief Executive, David McCullough, said “We know first-hand how important a cup of tea and a little bit of shared time can be to a person’s life, whether that’s a happy workplace or cheering up on older person who might not have seen anyone else all week. We are all busy, but taking that small amount of time to talk and share a cup of tea is beneficial to everyone’s day. I want to encourage the nation’s bosses to do their bit to save the humble tea break by pledging to make tea for their colleagues and raise funds for Great Brew Break.”

Great Brew Break events will take place from 28 April to 4 May, with bosses making the tea, vintage tea parties and simple tea breaks. Royal Voluntary Service will host an online roll call of all bosses who make the tea for their colleagues and as part of the campaign, the charity is writing directly FTSE 100 bosses, appealing to them to put the kettle on to raise funds.

To host your own Great Brew Break visit or call 0845 608 0122.

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