A New Friend

A New Friend

 

A couple of years ago, before all the house-moving and upheaval began, I heard about a scheme whereby older people who were isolated and lonely could get a phone friend through Age UK.

There are so many of our old folks living alone and unable to get out and socialise any more. Some of them are too ill or disabled and some are the sole carer for a partner or relative and so can’t leave them alone.

It got me thinking about how that would feel, to be alone and have not one friend to talk to or confide in. It could quite literally be me one day. I am the youngest in my family and I haven’t been able to have children.

I decided then to volunteer and didn’t realise the process would take as long as it did. By the time they said they were ready to ‘match’ me, I was neck-deep in selling my house and knew I wouldn’t be able to commit to a regular weekly call to my new friend.

I postponed it and only recently decided it was time to give it another go.

I had to provide a couple of references, do a bit of online training (nothing onerous, mostly safeguarding for both parties) and then have a telephone interview with one of the staff at Age UK.

Much to my surprise (as I thought it was scheduled for today), they rang yesterday afternoon when I had my own ‘getting on in years’ Mum here. I went ahead and did it anyway (despite Ma butting in with questions of her own and comments mouthed to me, as if I can lip read effectively, haha).

The lady interviewing me had a really strange tickly cough which interrupted her speech every few seconds, it was a strangely amusing experience.

At the end, she pronounced me suitable (my proudest moment) and then whipped out an array of old folks from which I could choose. She told me a woman’s rough age (70s) and her situation (caring for her husband full-time) and whereabouts in the country she lived (they have to live a distance from you and you’re not allowed to exchange addresses or phone numbers directly, only have contact through Age UK) and that Joan* missed female company.

All that info seemed a bit dry… How was I supposed to know if I could be friends with Joan on that little information. I asked if Joan had provided details of her hobbies and interests as I had and then followed a huge, long list of all the things that interested Joan. Joan has travelled. Joan has multiple interests, many of which she’s not not able to do any more. Joan sounds great.

I tell her I want Joan. She says ‘Are you sure? You’ve not heard about the others yet?’ I say no, she’s the old lady for me. I think I could learn some stuff about life from her.

I then ask if Joan will be contacted now and asked if she accepts me (I’m feeling a bit nervous as my own list of interests is nowhere near as eclectic as Joan’s and maybe she’ll reject me) and I’m told no, Joan gets what she’s given. (She didn’t say it that bluntly, but that’s what it comes down to).

So it’s done, I have a new friend. I’ve just got to decide on a regular time each week that Joan and I can speak and book the first call in.

I’m so nervous! What will I say to her? Will she be a talker and I won’t have to say much at all? What questions should I ask?

Gah! Exciting!

Any ideas, hints and tips on helping Joan feel comfortable would be much appreciated, and if you fancy giving it a go and volunteering yourself, visit the Age UK ‘Call in Time’ telephone befriending service webpage (they really should come up with a better name than that).

* I changed her name in case Joan is also on Second Life and reads my blog and doesn’t like me sharing personal details about her. I’d put nothing past Joan!

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15 comments

  • What a sweet and caring thing to do! I’m sure that she is filled with joy that someone has reached out to her. Her life experiences will be told again and that will undoubtedly make her fell special.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I’m used to chatting to old people who are alone. My job kind of puts me into that.
    Honestly it’s so easy to strike up a chat and people forget that many elderly and younger disabled people may not see anyone for weeks at a time to talk to.
    The only excitement of their day being when a carer visits. But usually the carers are very much limited in time and some are literally ten minute calls. So I think what you are doing is great ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  • I don’t really understand this need to connect and communicate with other people more than necessary. Hubby and me often talk maybe 100 words in a whole day, rest of the time each of us do our own things. We’re absolutely happy married since 22 years. Perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah yeah, but you’re not alone. I think knowing sometime cares is half the issue. Glad your marriage is good xx

      Like

  • Don’t worry from what I’ve read on your blog posts you’ll be a smasher at it! I find your little life stories so interesting and you put them down so well, leads to to assume you’ll be perfect at having a chat with Joan. As Isabelle my job tends to put me in contact with others and I find myself on the phone way longer then I need to be for my work but you get to know people and they volunteer sharing bits of their lives..”my granddaughter is coming up for visit over the holiday so I’m baking her her favorite almond cookies”…. which led to baking conversation (I love love love baking & cooking) so there you are. You’re a wonderful big hearted person Meri and I know Joan will be grateful for your friendship. Hugzzz (I can’t wait to hear how it goes!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know you were an Isabelle. What a lovely name. I love cooking too, although I’m no expert baker. I wonder if Joan will be interested in cooking. I hope so. I bet those you speak to are cheered up by you. Who wouldn’t be? Hugs you back Cherri. Have a great Tuesday xxx

      Liked by 1 person

    • I must have worded it wrong, I meant I like/as Isabelle (or fellow blogger/vlogger) have a job that puts us in contact with people …(my RL name is Sherri LOL) If you ever need a recipe let me know, but even if you don’t bake I bet Joan has some amazing heirloom recipes that might be a ice breaker …holidays…baking ….recipes! Who know you may become the next Mary Berry! (but a lot younger) Lots of hugzzz

      Liked by 1 person

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