“It was a steep comedown when this chatty long term civil servant found herself housebound. That is until she registered for one of our befriending services”

This is the story of Lorna. A larger than life social character, confined to her home with little contact with other people. The contact she does receive is often with people who see her as an ‘old person’, someone less mentally capable than the person she once was; which had exacerbated the feelings of loneliness that come with isolation.

Our Befriending Service 

Enter our befriending service, and one of our volunteers, Herma. Herma came across the National Visitors Network after receiving one of our mailers and immediately signed up to befriend someone in need.

Both Herma and Lorna were unsure of what to expect at first. Herma wondering what the person whose home she was going into would be like and if they would have anything to speak about.  Lorna meanwhile was burdened by the social stigma of having a volunteer visitor.

Herma's story

Herma recalls her first meeting with Lorna, with a smile:

‘The first time I walked into Lorna’s house, I politely asked where to sit (not wanting to offend and sit in someone’s favourite chair) to which she very quickly responded “On your bum” 

Since then Herma has been pleasantly surprised by Lorna’s feisty character and has grown to love the visits and the chats they have.

‘She (Lorna) can talk about anything – she worked in a shop before joining the civil service and that chatty character really comes through. What strikes me about Lorna is that she’s never been afraid of people who were different. I mean, she married a Dutchman; who she met during the Second World War! Very ahead of her time’

Why the befriending service is important

The conversation is extremely important to Lorna. As she’s grown older and her social circle has fallen away and she’s been more and more confined to her home, there’s been less chance to speak to people. But that doesn’t mean she has less to say.

‘I still keep up with current news and affairs’ Says Lorna. ‘Herma and I disagree about all sorts. Of course we do, we’re different people, from different times – but it’s the discussion and opinions that are important’

Isolation in older age is a serious issue in the UK. Maintaining social contact and having two-way conversations can go a long way to combatting isolation.

‘She has a lot to say’ says Herma ‘There’s so much we haven’t spoken about yet, which is great. She’s an avid embroiderer for example, something I know nothing about. I’m looking forward to learning more from Lorna during my visits’

Lorna says she loves the visits and her ability to talk and have a social release has been restored. Lorna and Herma meet twice a month and that works well for them both. They are both avid readers and digesters of news and current affairs so have plenty to catch up on every time they meet!

Photo posed by model 

You can sign up as a volunteer or to receive visits or calls today by calling our befriending team on 020 8469 9195 or emailing [email protected]