Jean (79) and Becky (25), were introduced through our Love Your Neighbour programme, which connects younger and older neighbours to share company, conversation and laughter. Neighbours hang one-to-one each week, usually in the older neighbour’s home.
Both Jean and Becky live in Gorton, a place once best known for its depiction in TV show Shameless but recently more synonymous with redevelopment, the migration of young professionals and creation of ITV’s Space Studios. Since we introduced them in December, Jean and Becky have shared weekly brews, and put the world to rights. Jean has been sharing with Becky the heart and heritage of south-east Manchester and why she feels “she couldn’t wish for a better place to live”. Five months into their friendship, we joined them for a catch up:
Jean: Becky is a breath of fresh air, she has to put up with me, mind. Like the other week we were talking about a TV show she must watch but I just couldn’t remember the name of it and then the next day I remembered and I had to write it down and I couldn’t wait to tell her (if anyone wants to know it was Cheat!).
Becky: Jean is a pro at Netflix, I get all my TV recommendations from her.
Becky: I always come after a day at work and it is so lovely to chat to someone who has such similar values and opinions but isn’t someone I would ordinarily meet day to day. And who is someone who isn’t my boyfriend!
Jean: There is never a moment of silence during our visits and I’d encourage everyone to give it a go because it is surprising. I was on the fence and I thought I would give it a go but I don’t think it will workout but as soon as I met Becky I really liked her and the first visit was smashing.
Becky: And it works both ways, when I was thinking about getting involved, I was thinking, will we have enough to chat about? Will I get on with someone who is older than me? But it really is surprising. For young professionals it can be so easy to tell yourself, “I don’t have time”, but it is so easy to find an hour and what you get is so much more than you put in.
Jean: Knowing Becky is coming really cheers me up, I can be having a bad day with my back or hands but then I think Becky is coming so I need to get sorted. So it is something I look forward to and really enjoy but it also keeps me going and keeps my mind off any aches and pains. We just clicked and now we are great friends. You could get people who think, it’s only an hour, but that hour is special and I really look forward to that hour.
Becky: I have loved learning about Manchester and particularly Gorton and the history. Jean hasn’t been into the Monastery but I have and she has shared wonderful stories about when the monks were there.
Jean: As a child I have so many memories of Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, on Easter Sunday especially, you couldn’t move for people. It was our meeting place, where we used to hang out.
Becky: There was a zoo in Belle Vue?
Jean: Yes, it was massive. There were animals, a fairground, a circus.
Becky and Jean ended the visit by sharing their top tips for somewhere to visit in Greater Manchester (Dunham Massey and Debdale Park), and advice they’d give their younger self:
Becky: For me it’d be don’t worry about what people think of you.
Jean: And for me, I’d say don’t shut yourself off as much as I have done.
If you’ve been inspired by Jean and Becky’s friendship and would like to get to know one of your neighbours, sign up to attend one of our inductions here – you won’t regret it!
Posted by Vicky Harrold on Wednesday 17th April 2019
Vicky is Manchester Cares' Programme Coordinator managing our Love Your Neighbour programme.