Befriending is all in the family for Irene and Nicola
Calls and visits nurture a bond that has brought the two closer together
For Irene and Nicola, befriending has turned into a lot more than a weekly call or visit - for both, it has extended their families.
Nicola has been phoning and (latterly) visiting Irene for almost two years now and, after quickly hitting it off, both feel they have gained a mother and daughter.
Nicola, who has volunteered with LEAP for some years now, including working in its R:evolve Recycle clothing swap shops, said: “Irene and I were matched not long into the first lockdown in 2020 and we had to make do with phoning and chatting.
“So one of the first things we did was to send each other photographs so we could put faces to the voices. It made a big difference and we seemed to click because of that.”
Irene said: “Knowing what Nicola looked like definitely made a difference. We started talking about our families and it gave us a bond that has grown stronger since.
“I used to go to one of LEAP’s friendship groups but I still felt I needed someone to talk to.
ALL IN THE FAMILY ... Irene (l) and Nicola look at photographs of Irene's family on her iPad
“Nicola is my second befriender and we have become such firm friends it now feels like I have a daughter visiting me.
“Nicola’s children and my great-grandchildren are the same age so we can talk about things happening to them and relate to it all.”
“That’s very true,” Nicola agreed, “and it fosters that feeling of family.
“My mum lives in France so I never got to see her for a long time due to COVID, and I think that was one of the reasons Irene became like another mother to me.
“I’m so grateful for that, and it is just one of the rewards I get out of befriending. I have always volunteered, be it through my children’s schools or LEAP, and I don’t see me stopping any time soon as I get so much out of it.
“I would heartily recommend becoming a befriender.”
Irene added: “I’m always glad to see Nicola – she really makes my day. And she has been a real help to me setting up my iPad (see* below) as she’s taken the time to show me how to work it and we’ll sit and look through new photographs and emails or new things for the house.”
Now, both Irene and Nicola are looking forward to the end of COVID restrictions and possibly the chance to get out together somewhere.
“That would be nice,” Irene told us, “ as I would love to get out again once it is safe to do so.”
Why don’t you come and join us in brightening someone’s day? If you want to find out more about befriending with LEAP, visit www.leap-project.co.uk or call 0141 641 5169 for a chat.
* Irene received an iPad from LEAP as part of the Scottish Government’s Connecting Scotland initiative, along with support from LEAP to set it up and use it.