“I decided to apply to become a volunteer befriender with the One Small Step project as I wanted to ‘pay something back’ to society and allocating an hour per week seemed something that would fit in with my busy lifestyle.  Also, how hard could a bit of mid-week socialising be?  As it turned out, it wasn’t hard at all and Shirley and I have such fun that we never meet for less than two hours.

Shirley lacks confidence and, in the beginning, was certain that our meetings would be unsuccessful because I would find her boring and unintelligent; in fact, quite the opposite is true, although it took a few visits to persuade her of this.

Shirley is very knowledgeable and well educated and quite delightful to be with, and even though she has a daily care worker, a cleaner and a gardener, I know that she is still very lonely, as these people are paid to ‘work’ for her and are all there to provide a specific service.

Our trips out are always impromptu, going wherever Shirley feels she wants or needs to go and always end with a coffee and a chat.

As we have got to know each other well she now feels able to discuss her concerns about her family and more recently her health. Whilst I can’t offer advice or influence, I do think I offer her support and an opportunity to talk about these issues.

I really enjoy my visits just as much as Shirley does and always come away having had a lovely afternoon.  I know that I am helping Shirley and feel privileged to be able to do so.”