I recently met up with one of our Link Friends to see how she was getting on in the befriending scheme. It was encouraging to see what a difference has been made, not only to her loneliness, but also to her confidence. Please note names have been changed and the photograph is of another person and dog, to protect identities. Mary Northway – Project Leader
Barbara’s face lights up as she talks about her past travels and the outfits she wore at various international weddings in Sri Lanka, Greece and beyond. And the jobs she held in the computer industry, often involving public presentations.
“It’s good to remember what I’ve done in life. I can’t do those things anymore due to my mobility. But it’s good to remember that that was actually me!”
Barbara is in her 70’s and has been part of Linking Lives Eastbourne befriending scheme for nearly a year. She lives with a diagnosis of depression, and arthritis, which causes her severe pain most days.
The referral to Linking Lives was from the mental health team, who felt that her wellbeing would improve with some face-to-face befriending and opportunities to get out.
Dr C wrote “Barbara lives alone with her dog. She becomes very lonely, and often feel she puts up a front for others.”
The friendly silver-blue Yorkshire terrier Bertie, with his coat of many different greys and his tongue sticking out on one side, is good company. His favourite spot is up close for a cuddle. But he’s not enough. It’s conversation with other people that Barbara really loves.
“Having a befriender is one of the best things that’s happened to me. I just love hearing her voice.”
Pauline visits Barbara every Thursday. Often, they sit in the conservatory and have a chat over a cup of tea in pretty, floral tea mugs. Barbara’s home radiates creativity, from the landscaped garden with its feature brick wall and reflective mirror, to the new lounge curtains pulling together the various colours from the pictures and accessories in the room. They chat about anything and everything, from Barbara’s recent purchases to Pauline’s teenagers.
“We share things. I didn’t marry or have children. So, I love hearing about her family and getting an insight into family life.”
Barbara admits to having good days and bad days with her mood, her pain, and her mobility. Sometimes when she’s down, she appreciates Pauline helping her see things in another way. Sometimes they spend the afternoon chatting and laughing.
“There are times after she’s gone that my face still hurts from laughing so much!”
When asked if being involved in the befriending scheme has helped her feel more confident to go out, Barbara answers unhesitatingly and unequivocally.
“Oh yes, definitely! I was a hermit before and hardly ever went out. Now with Pauline we often go out together, maybe to a park, or a coffee shop or to do some shopping.”
Last week they went to a newly opened, packed with people, Store and Garden Centre. Barbara’s purchases this year have included a new mobility scooter, which she now uses to get to the local area of town, and to visit her sister-in-law each week.
“It’s got rubber tyres and alloy wheels, a satnav, and a mobile phone charger! Bertie comes along too, walking with me, and when he gets tired, he jumps on for a ride.”
The scooter probably won’t make it to Sri Lanka or Greece, but enabled with confidence from her friendship and trips out with Pauline, Barbara (and Bertie) are absolutely aspiring to travel further afield and beyond.