"We chatted like long lost friends": Eleanor on a year of volunteering at social clubs

​Eleanor came to her first social club back in May 2017. In our latest blog she shares her experiences of loneliness, and looks back on a year of yoga, singing The Lion King, and the joy of making friends with her older neighbours.

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I am a typical thirty-something old; I have a stressful office job, I go to the occasional social gathering with friends and I enjoy spending time with my family.  However, as I’ve grown older, I have noticed the importance of cultivating friendships; my Mum once said to me that I would be lucky if I can count on one hand the number of people I can call friends. How true those words are.  I try and live each day as it comes and one of my mottos in life is to be kind.

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When I heard about South London Cares through a colleague at work, I was immediately interested and keen to find out more.  I was so excited about being invited to the induction evening and I soon felt like I was part of a family.  I come from a Greek Cypriot background and I was struck at the warmth, compassion and friendliness of everyone I met.

My first social club was film club on a warm Sunday afternoon.  I started by making cups of tea and everyone was so welcoming.  I remember thinking that I could see how much the social clubs meant to our older neighbours and to this day, I aim to come to at least two social clubs a month.

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One of my favourite social clubs was yoga club.  I had had a particularly long day at work, but as I walked through the door, I was greeted warmly by an older neighbour I had had a blast with at quiz club a couple of months previously (we had both been on the losing team!) and from the minute I sat down, we chatted like long-lost friends. I also love the choir social clubs, which I have been to on numerous occasions.  A memory that always makes me smile is when we were learning the chorus of The Lion King’s ‘Circle of Life’: cue much giggling and outburst of song! It was an utterly brilliant moment and I was singing to myself all the way home. 

I have often been hit by waves of loneliness myself; I have sometimes felt utterly alone in a world where social media creates the impression that everyone else is having a better time out there than you.  I therefore go along to each social club with the view that if I can make someone smile or laugh, or if I can have a meaningful conversation with an older neighbour, I have made a difference, however small, to someone’s life.  And that is what counts.

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To anyone thinking about signing up to South London Cares, please don’t think – just do.  I’m sure that everyone would agree with me that combatting loneliness in an ever changing and stressful society really should be an aspiration to many more.  This is a fantastic charity and I am proud to be a part of it. 

Eleanor Wilson

Posted by Eleanor Wilson on Wednesday 6th June 2018

Eleanor has been coming to South London Cares' social clubs since May 2017. She works as a lawyer when she's not singing The Lion King soundtrack at choir with her older neighbours! 

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