Last month we shared older neighbours’ stories, so this month we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the wonderful younger neighbours who are part of Love Your Neighbour. The programme brings younger and older neighbours together to share time, conversation and laughter on a one-to-one basis. Pals have weekly visits and phone calls, or get out and about together locally doing things they enjoy.
Younger neighbours Sarah (29), Isabel (31) and Helen (38) told us a bit about what their friendships mean to them, and what they have learnt from getting to know an older neighbour.
Sarah (29) was introduced to her pal Muriel (82) over a year ago and since then, they have shared 48 calls and visits. They enjoy catching up and chatting about their families, their favourite snacks and all things telly, from Strictly to the Olympics. They have joined us at a few Social Clubs and celebrated our fourth birthday with a party bag at Muriel’s!
Sarah told us that for her, the most rewarding aspect of being part of Love Your Neighbour has been getting to know someone of a different generation and background, as well as supporting someone in her community. “I think this programme is such a great idea and really makes a difference for the older neighbours. It's always great to hear Muriel perk up while we are on the phone and to know that our calls are something that she enjoys, and I'm really glad to be able to bring that to her. Her laugh makes me laugh, and she laughs a lot when we chat! It's also helped me find more of a sense of purpose, I think sometimes life's problems feel really huge and like you can't make a difference, and chatting with Muriel reminds me that you don't have to be doing "huge" things to make a positive difference in your community”.
Isabel (31) has been matched with José (69) since August 2021, and as well as chatting over the phone, the pair have enjoyed meeting up for a walk in the park, discovering the joys of a chippy tea and even joining us at the Manchester Cares fourth birthday party last year.
Isabel values learning new things from José and supporting each other through good and bad times. “Every call or visit I have with José is packed with unexpected learnings and fun facts about all sorts of things. We've talked at length about music, our families, and how it is to live abroad. We have also gone on to chat about very random and interesting topics, like fish types (with focus on the different names across Latin America), disco music, our jobs over the years, indoor plants, politics and history.
Our friendship really makes me feel hopeful and uplifted, particularly when we've faced challenging times. We now not only talk about the fun, good stuff, but hear each other out when we're nervous or sad about something.
José has taught me a great deal about resilience, about adjusting to adversity to not just survive, but thrive and just be happy. He has faced so many challenging situations in the UK, in Japan, in Spain and Peru, but he maintains such a good spirit and positive attitude. Hearing him talk about the family and friends he has in all these places is very reassuring, as it shows how people always find a way to help each other and create long-lasting connections despite distances, ages and differences.”
Helen (38) has been friends with Lufti (70) for almost two years; in that time, their regular chats have covered everything from cooking and religion to Lufti’s art classes and Helen’s trips away. They supported each other through the pandemic and lockdown, and have come out of those experiences as firm friends.
Helen told us: “I feel like it's a true friendship. I feel valued as she often tells me I've cheered her up, which cheers me up if I've had a bad day! I've learnt that even though we have totally different cultures, backgrounds and upbringing, we actually share a lot of similar views and have a similar outlook on the world, which I wasn't expecting at the start of our friendship."
Through Love Your Neighbour we aim to create genuine, long-lasting friendships, and as you have heard from Sarah, Isabel and Helen, each friendship is unique and different. So, if you’ve enjoyed reading these stories and would like to be introduced to an older neighbour, hear more about the programme, or refer an older person to us, please sign up here or chat with Izzy or Vicky on 0161 207 0800.
Posted by Izzy Zimšek on Thursday 28th April 2022
Love Your Neighbour Programme Coordinator