Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve matched more than 2,000 older people with Re-engage call companions. Here, Sheila and Lily talk about their weekly chats.
Sheila: ‘I’m amazed by Lily’s maturity’
Sheila heard about Re-engage through the small local ladies’ social club she belongs to. Although the club has kept in touch throughout the pandemic, their face-to-face meetings have been suspended, so being assigned a call companion came at the right time for her.
Sheila says, “I haven’t been as affected by the pandemic as some. Having lived through six years of World War 2, I believe you just have to accept the hand life deals and get on with it. But I do look forward to my weekly chats with Lily - we always have something to catch up on.
“I’ve often wondered what Lily might look like; I gather that she’s quite tall. I like to form a little picture in my mind. One thing I do know is that she’s very wise for her age and she’s knowledgeable; we talk about everything, including politics and religion. I’m not sure I knew as much at her age!
“I’d recommend Re-engage to any older person who feels they’d benefit from a regular chat with someone. Lily and I both learn from each other. She’s such a calm person and she has a wonderful attitude. I’ve often been amazed by her maturity.”
Lily: ‘Sheila gives me a perspective I wouldn’t otherwise get.’
At the start of the pandemic, Lily moved into a support bubble with her family, so she had no reason to feel lonely. But she had an idea of how isolated others might feel, particularly older people living alone.
Lily says, “Home felt quite jolly. But I knew others would be having a very different experience of the lockdown and that they might no longer feel part of a community.”
Lily worked full time throughout the pandemic, so having a volunteering role that she could fit around her other commitments was ideal. She hasn’t looked back since.
“The experience has been amazing. I was nervous at first, but I genuinely look forward to my calls with Sheila. She has such a broad range of interests and we feel very aligned. I love hearing about the challenges that she faced growing up in the war and how they differ from those that we face today.
“As a society we’ve moved away from caring for the wider community and I feel that we’ve lost out as a result. Sheila gives me a perspective I wouldn’t otherwise get.
“I always tell Sheila that she doesn’t need to thank me after our calls. I get so much out of them and it feels good to know that I’m making a small contribution to society.”
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