Lisa Liddell is a befriender with the Welcome Friends Rhondda Cynon Taf project in Wales:
“Although I worked full time and volunteered as a recorder with the Woodland Trust, I was still interested in applying to Volunteering Matters to join their Welcome Friends befriending project. This was advertised in our local free magazine and I went along to our local Day Centre to hear more about the project.
Since losing my parents and an aunt and having been their carer for many years, I was well aware of the needs of older people, the loneliness and isolation they can experience. As a one to one home visiting befriender, I could fit in weekly visits with work and also fill a large gap in my personal life.
When I was introduced to my ‘lady’ I could sense she was a bit resentful of having to accept a stranger into her life. However she agreed to ‘give it a go’ and I set about gaining her trust and friendship.
Edie, who is now approaching 100 years old, was a strong, fiercely independent woman who had been sent away from Wales to go into service in London at only 14. After marriage, she brought up her children and then grand-children and now was living completely on her own in the same house she and her husband had bought over 70 years ago.
I visit her every Sunday and we have become firm friends. I look forward to my visits as much as she does. She shares her memories and sometimes sings to me… she has a beautiful voice and it is really obvious how much her mood lifts by the end of our afternoon together.
I also plan to see her on Christmas day as she won’t have any other visitors.
Being Edie’s befriender has increased my happiness; given me more confidence and I have become more outgoing in my working life. The opportunity to volunteer through Volunteering Matters and the Welcome Friends befriending project has been wonderful. I give up a few hours of my free time every week but I gain so much more in return.
Edie and I will always remain friends and I hope to plan a special celebration for her 100th Birthday.”