Older and younger residents matched by Link Age Southwark forge lockdown friendships

Katherine Johnston (27 May, 2020)

'Being a telephone befriender has given me an unexpected chance to get to know someone new, at a time when all social plans are on pause' - Lucy

37017Gwyneth, who has been matched with Lucy

Since the lockdown began, at least 40 volunteers have befriended older residents in the borough through Link Age Southwark.

The charity helps match seniors with volunteer gardeners, friends, and shoppers – particularly important for those self-isolating who may not have family nearby.

Lucy and Gwyneth are one new pair of pals whose telephone friendship is going from strength to strength.

Gwyneth, who is in her 90s, explained: “I’ve found it very educational in that I’m hearing about young people, what they’re thinking, dreaming about, enjoying, hoping to achieve.

“And Lucy is interested in my experiences in the Second World War, so we’ve found different levels to communicate on about our experiences.”

Lucy said: “Being a telephone befriender has given me an unexpected chance to get to know someone new, at a time when all social plans are on pause, and to start a friendship that I hope will continue long after lockdown.”

Food is one of their favourite topics of conversation and they are already planning where they can go for a meal when they are able to meet in person.

“It’s been great to have something in the diary to look forward to every weekend, and I also like knowing that I am helping someone else to feel more connected and hopefully a bit happier at this time,” Lucy added.

The charity will be launching a Crowdfunder on June 3 to help continue its COVID-19 response efforts, and also to run a gardening project.

Melissa Whittingham, Link Age Southwark’s volunteer coordinator, says the project will bring a bit of colour and charm to people feeling isolated at home, as well as helping them on a practical level with keeping their gardens tidy and in good condition.

“Gwyneth and Lucy epitomise our vision of friendly local communities, where older people thrive,” she said.

“We are also delighted to share the news that our work has been recognised this month through being awarded the Investing in Volunteers Quality Standard by NCVO.”

Find out more:  www.linkagesouthwark.org

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