“There I was - stuck indoors, bored. The television was depressing and knitting and sewing were difficult because my concentration was terrible.”
These are the words of 80-year-old Pringle, describing her evenings at the height of the country’s first national lockdown.
The widow, who lives alone in rural Scotland, is just one of many of her generation who has found the past year lonelier than ever.
Pringle says “Although I’m 80, I’m very sprightly and sociable. My husband died two years ago and there’s been a big hole in my life ever since.
"My family have been phoning during the lockdowns, but we only speak every few days because there’s nothing to say!”
Pringle was persuaded by a friend to sign up for a Re-engage call companion. What’s unique about this service is that, where possible, we pair people up based on their interests.
For example, one gentleman told us he loved keeping fit, so we found him with a young fitness fanatic to chat to. An 87-year-old woman told us she once embroidered gowns for the Royal Family; she was paired with a university lecturer in fashion.
For Pringle, a lively, intelligent woman with a passion for archaeology and geology, we found her young archaeologist Craig to chat to, also from Scotland.
“I just hit it off with Craig from the start,” Pringle says. “We share ideas and our conversations about art and archaeology give me something new to pass on to my family and friends. And it’s reciprocal – Craig tells his mother all about me.”
Craig, 29, was on furlough from his job when he signed up and also finding the lockdown unsettling.
He says, “I was feeling the need to help out in my own small way while I was stuck at home. It felt like a pleasure to get to know someone else at a time when making new friends was a real challenge.”
Even though he's now back at work, Craig still enjoys his weekly chats with Pringle.
“The experience has been brilliant,” he says. “I’ve really enjoyed the chats and the extra bit of company has been a real plus. We have a lot of shared interests so it’s always interesting.”
Pringle agrees, “Call Companions has been excellent. If you get a good match, you’re never stuck for things to say.
"Craig and I have a new friendship out of it.”
'Everyone's chomping at the bit to get together!'
Our Area Organiser in Angus, Jean Malcolm, shares how she's helped build a flourishing community there.
Re-engage teams up with Anchor Hanover
We've joined forces with England's largest not-for-profit housing provider to tackle the crisis of 'lockdown loneliness'.