Lupita, 73, met Elisabeth and Charlotte over three years ago through our Love Your Neighbour programme, which connects older neighbours with younger volunteers in their local community for company, conversation, and friendship.
As Elisabeth prepares to make an exciting move to the Netherlands, we caught up with both neighbours to reflect on what makes their friendship so special.
Lupita is tranquil, thoughtful, creative, and relentlessly positive. Between chatting about music (Joan Baez sings with more sincerity than Bob Dylan, she says) and eating leftover Christmas cake (she saved the last bit for us), Lupita spoke at length about what her friendship with Elisabeth and Charlotte means to her.
“Charlotte came first, and we were both asked if we’d like to see one another again. We both said YES! Afterwards Charlotte introduced me to her friends Elisabeth and Anna and then Elisabeth started visiting too. We absolutely adore each other.”
Despite an age difference nearing 50 years, it’s clear that the three are kindred spirits, and close friends. “They are absolutely extraordinary girls”, Lupita says. “So young, so balanced and so sensitive. Whenever Charlotte introduces me to someone, she calls me her friend. Isn’t that incredible?”.
Since losing her eyesight, Lupita says Charlotte and Elisabeth have played an “invaluable” part in keeping her connected and helping her out with the kind of small tasks that we take for granted, like reading out sell-by dates and phone numbers. It’s clear, however, that it’s conversation that means the most Lupita. “I’m able to tell them my worst, and they also confide in me. We’re very, very close”, she says. “When things have been too much for me, they’ve been there. It’s been incredible.”
Emotional support plays a vital part in this friendship, giving the three friends a tight and strong connection. “You won’t believe”, Lupita says, “I can tell more to both of them than anyone. I can be so open, because we have an understanding. Who would have thought two English girls in their 20s and an old Latin American woman would be so similar!”
It’s an understanding and closeness that clearly runs deep. “I absolutely adore them”, Lupita repeats. “With these two girls, Charlotte and Elisabeth, I don’t even need to finish my sentences. We understand each other. With them, it flows: The way we talk, the way we see things. It’s absolutely amazing.”
What do Charlotte and Elisabeth mean to Lupita? “They bring life, I can live” she says, with a huge smile on her face. “These young people, they fill me with joy.”
Find out more about Lupita and her love of art, colour and community below in our Hidden Heroes series.
Lupita’s wisdom and outlook on life is something that Elisabeth will miss when she moves away. “She has this wisdom like nobody else”, she says. “We have a mix of really silly chats, but then pretty deep DMC’s covering big topics like death, love, and religion. I love the way she sparks debate.”
Importantly, Elisabeth feels she’s learned a lot from Lupita. “She’s really spiritual, and gives me great advice. She’s very knowledgeable about so many things, particularly the body and the mind. She’s so young, physically and mentally.”
Has there been a particularly special visit to Lupita over the last three years? “I can’t pick a standout moment with Lupita, it would be impossible. But, highlights were definitely when we went out together, which felt really special. On her birthday, we went to Putney and had lunch, then an ice cream (she loves ice cream!). Otherwise, it’s just been getting to know Lupita over the years. We’ve become very close, we’ve even cried together!”
“To summarise my experience of volunteering through the Love Your Neighbour programme: It’s really broadened my horizons. Lupita is an inspirational lady, and spending time with her is a great privilege.”
Our Love Your Neighbour programme connects younger and older neighbours for long-term friendship and regular conversation. Click here to find out more, and sign-up to get involved.
Posted by Leighann Morris on Friday 18th January 2019
Leighann is the Programme Coordinator for Love Your Neighbour in Lambeth, connecting younger and older neighbours one-to-one for weekly visits and long-term friendship. Previously Leighann worked for Bow Arts Trust, an arts and educational charity in east London.