I wanted to get involved with South London Cares as I wanted to meet someone new and be social. I wanted more company. I had just come out of hospital and I couldn’t really get out. I’ve never really enjoyed going to social clubs with big crowds, I prefer having a one to one friendship so I was happy when I was introduced to Paula.
Paula and I don’t really have anything in common (ha!), but we get on: we chat. The time goes so quickly – we talk and talk, about what’s happening in my life and in her life too. We do say it like it is! We’re similar in that way. We get on regardless of age – age doesn’t matter does it?!
I’ve been in my flat 30 odd years now, but I don’t even know who lives across the road now – everyone has moved. I always used to be out all day with work and I never watched the TV, but now I can’t get out you end up watching all the television programmes. Paula brings me magazines and books and we catch up. Recently, I’ve been learning to message on the tablet, so I can message my family in Australia. Thing is I lack the patience, but I’m sticking with it! I’m practising and it’s great Paula can give me a hand.
Recently I had my 80th birthday party and it was a total surprise! I was so shocked I thought I was going to play bingo in the hall. I was wondering why everyone was making such a fuss. I saw people I haven’t seen in years and it was so nice that Paula came along and met everyone. I’ve met Matt, Paula’s husband. He’s ever so nice and brings me Kit Kats!
I always look forward to the visits from Paula, they break up the week and I can always depend on her coming. My son usually travels to come and visit me a Tuesday, but that means it can nearly be a week without seeing anyone. It’s a long time and it can be difficult. It’s great to have good company like Paula, it’s made me feel happier.
When I heard about South London Cares, I wanted to get involved. I work long hours so I wasn’t able to go to social clubs, but I was interested in meeting someone new in my local community so the Love Your Neighbour programme worked really well.
Val and I watch the soaps together; I only watch it once a week so I’m always asking Val what’s been happening! Then we just chat and catch up. We have a good laugh and it’s really nice. She’s more like my friend now – it doesn’t feel like volunteering.
On one of our hang outs, we found out that Val’s dad and brother used to work in print for The Mirror and I work for The Mirror now which is quite a coincidence – it’s great to discover those links.
Val has got a big family. I’ve met some of her family from Australia but I recently went to Val’s surprise 80th birthday. I’ve heard so much about everyone it was really nice to meet everyone in person. Some of her family even flew from Australia for the party!
From hanging out with Val, I’ve learnt a lot about south London. Val was born in Camberwell and so was her mother. I like hearing about Val’s experience growing up and how things were then and how things have changed. Val is so feisty and I love hearing her stories. She stands up for herself and really makes me laugh!
I always look forward to the visits; the weekly visit always comes round quick. It’s nice going to Val’s after a busy day at work. When you go home after work I’ve always got jobs to do, but when I come to Val’s it’s just about catching up and having that down time. I think there’s so much in the news now about loneliness and it feels good to be a part of something where you get to know someone you wouldn’t normally meet.
Val and Paula are one of sixty five Love Your Neighbour matches – south Londoners who wouldn't usually have met, but who can gain a lot from knowing one another. Find out more about Love Your Neighbour here.
Posted by Jasmin White on Tuesday 12th June 2018
Jasmin is the Head of Programmes for South London Cares, managing and supporting our core team. Previously she was Programme Coordinator for Love Your Neighbour, connecting younger and older neighbours one-to-one for weekly visits and longterm friendship and worked for Headstart supporting young people to volunteer in their local community.