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.
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.
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.
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.
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!