Older neighbour Margaret, 87, and volunteer Amy have been matched through our Love Your Neighbour programme for two years. Over those many months they've shared stories, laughter, and biscuits in Margaret's home on Brixton Road. We caught up with our longest-standing match to hear how their friendship has grown.
Margaret first met Amy in February 2015, following a particularly difficult year. She thought joining our Love Your Neighbour network would be a bit of fun - something to break up her week. She knew she'd enjoy getting to know a young person. But Margaret never expected that Amy would become one of her closest friends.
"I can't believe I've only known Amy for 2 years! We talk about everything. We do talk about all the good things about London, it can be a lovely city. But we both agree that these days, everyone's just tripping over each other all the time. They don't make real time for each other. Most people just 'text' now don't they? They don't look up from their phones. Amy's not like that, though, she's always visiting me and she always has a smile on her face.
We could talk for hours. She'll tell me about the football games, we'll talk about how my children are getting on. She's a very relaxed person. She makes me feel like I don't have to work hard at friendship - she makes me feel listened to and valued. Sometimes she'll even come through the rain to see me!
It does make me feel more connected, because it can be lonely living by myself. My family are good to me, but it's important to have friends and that's what Amy's been for me. I so look forward to her visits. When she goes away, I really miss her. But she always sends postcards and sometimes she's even brought me biscuits from her trips abroad too, so I feel like I get to travel with her! We've become very close after two years. It means a lot to me.”
For Amy, getting to know Margaret has been just as meaningful. What started out as a volunteering commitment has become a real friendship and an important part of her life.
"Margaret is a really kind person - she's one of the most caring and supportive people I know. When I visit, we talk about what's happening in our lives and in the world. I love hearing updates about her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. And I like hearing stories about her life - like when she moved from Ireland to London 60 years ago and had bright red hair, worked all over town, and was raising her kids.
We talk a lot about what's happening in the world - she's very switched on and although we’re different in many ways, we actually share a similar perspective on life so it's always fun and interesting. In the summer, we sit outside in the sunshine and sing along to soul music together.
Our relationship has taught me a lot about friendship - we dedicate time to each other, when we're there to talk and listen to each other and I'm not worrying about checking my phone, what I've got to do that day, or what's happening in the rest of my life. I’m completely present. It's a special thing."
Friendships like the one shared by Margaret and Amy remind us all to look up from our screens and look out for each other. Find out more about Love Your Neighbour here.
Posted by Ruby Shrimpton on Monday 6th March 2017
Ruby leads South London Cares' Love Your Neighbour programme.