Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve matched almost 2,000 older people with Re-engage call companions. Here, Sylvia and Nicola talk about their weekly chats that opened the door to a lasting friendship.
Sylvia: "Nicola and I just hit it off. She’s such a lovely girl."
Sylvia, who is 82, was matched with her call companion Nicola, who is 25, in January this year and from the minute they first spoke, they got on like a house on fire.
Sylvia’s husband died six years ago and today she has a rescue German Shepherd and a rescue cat for company. She and Nicola speak for an hour every week and have become very close since they were first matched.
Sylvia says “When Re-engage told me that they were going to match me up with someone with similar interests, I thought they’d have quite a challenge on their hands. I have so many different interests it would be hard to know where to start.
“But Nicola and I just hit it off. She’s such a lovely girl. She’s forthright, just like me, and we really enjoy each other’s company.”
Sylvia ran a fish shop with her husband for 48 years before going on to run a local slimming club for five years.
“We’re both trying to lose weight and so we have our own little weigh in every week. Last week she beat me by half a pound! We like to support each other.
“If the other call companions are anything like Nicola, then I’d recommend Re-engage to anyone. I’ve been lucky during lockdown because I have marvelous neighbours who keep an eye out for me, but my calls with Nicola have given me something to look forward to every week”.
Nicola: “It’s such a good feeling hearing the excitement in someone’s voice and knowing they're happy to hear from you.”
Nicola lives with her family and has worked throughout the pandemic as a Clinical Trials Assistant at her local hospital; initially for Cancer Research and more recently helping with Covid19 studies. She wanted to do something to help others during her free time and volunteering for Re-engage felt like an obvious choice.
“I thought about those who were isolated and alone throughout the pandemic and how difficult it must be to be cut off from all social contact. I like to think that, if I were in the same situation, someone would be there for me.”
Not a naturally outgoing person, Nicola was nervous about making her first ‘phone call.
“Sylvia is so welcoming and friendly, she’s really quite special. I don’t know why I worried. I love hearing her stories, she always has so many to tell.
“She’s also been fantastic at motivating me. It’s the first time I’ve actually stuck to a diet because I know that Sylvia is going to check up on me every week so she knows I can’t cheat!
“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend becoming a volunteer for Re-engage. It’s such a good feeling to hear the excitement in someone’s voice and know that their happy to hear from you”.
A volunteer on the challenges of supporting her group during lock down.
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