International Friendship Day 2020
Published on 29 July 2020 10:41 AM
In honour of international friendship day 2020 we’ve been speaking to Angela and Jules, who were brought together by Age UK Lambeth over a gardening project.
Angela, who also has several long term health conditions herself, is a full time carer for her mum Elsa, who lives with dementia and is immobile due to sciatica. Together they live in a house with a front and back garden that Angela describes as being ‘in a bit of a mess’. Before Angela’s mum’s diagnosis, gardening was one of the things that brought her immense joy, taking pride in her beautiful garden. Unfortunately, due to lack of wheelchair access issues out of the property Elsa is no longer able to participate in gardening. Anglea took over the gardening but by her own admission, and confirmed by Jules, she was much better at killing plants than growing them!
Angela got in touch with Age UK Lambeth to see if we could help her get her garden looking beautiful again so her mum would be able to enjoy it once again. That’s when we connected her with volunteer Jules, who came along with her gardening knowledge and enthusiasm to help get the task sorted. Angela said she’s unsure where Jules gets her energy from, describing her fondly as ‘little but a powerhouse’ but she helped start to bring the garden back to its original glory.
This story is about more than gardening though, the job could have just been done by a gardener but Jules has also brought joy and friendship to Anglela. When asked what friendship meant to Angela she said “Friendship means someone being upfront, honest and there unconditionally, no strings attached”. Jules said that from the moment they met they were giggling away, making fun of each other and having a good natter. Angela said that she showed the pictures of the garden to her mum, helping to bring back memories and putting a smile on her face.
“She helped me put a smile on my mum’s face and that’s very rare, and that’s special in my eyes”.
After the garden was complete Angela asked if she could keep in touch with Jules, and both of them now consider it to be a friendship. Angela and Jules now send each other messages, Angela sharing photos of her flowers which she’s not only managed to keep alive but with Jules’ gardening tips are flourishing. Jules enjoys being able to give encouragement to Angela to continue with her gardening projects herself, knowing how much of a sanctuary a garden can be, and is also there to help when needed. Jules expressed the importance she believes having friends around you that you know are part of your circle has. The people you can have a natter with whilst doing the gardening, exchange messages with and just knowing you have someone at the end of the line. Sometimes it’s also nice to talk about not killing the roses rather than just the serious things too.
Jules has some more plants to drop round to Angela and they will be tackling the front garden together soon to create a themed "secret fantasy garden". Both told me that they hoped if there was anything that they could do for the other that they could be there for them, and we’re delighted a messy dead garden has brought two people together.
At Age UK Lambeth we love to see people making real and meaningful connections. We’re also aware that whilst many of us are starting to get back to a more normal life after COVID, for many people who have been stuck in their houses this period this will be bringing a whole new range of worries and challenges. We’ve helped support people through lockdown with friendship calls and we’re still looking for volunteers for this role but in the coming weeks will also be thinking about how befrienders can support befriendees to return to normality too. If you think you would benefit from having a befriender, get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0333 360 3700. We are also looking for a number of dedicated volunteers to continue the fantastic work, therefore if you have some time to spare and would like to make a meaningful connection with someone who is isolated or lonely please sign up to the council’s volunteering database here, where they will do checks on our behalf then pass your details through to us.