"To be honest, I get as much out of my befriending role as do, hopefully, the people I befriend. It feels good to help someone feel less isolated and gives a structure to my week which I missed when I retired. I really enjoy my conversations with them and we learn so much from each other. Sometimes, when you think about what advice you would like to offer, you realise that it’s the advice you should be giving yourself.

When you have been given support by others, you feel it’s only fair that you, if in a position to do so, try to help others. I think that this is especially important, nowadays, as there are so many people needing support that official bodies are not in a position to meet the needs of all. Families are also much more widespread than they used to be, so even those with lots of family, can still feel lonely. Knowing that there’s a weekly catch up with a familiar face, a nice cup of tea and a cake can make such a difference. Even a weekly phone call with a familiar voice is a good excuse for a sit down at home and a wee biscuit.

A quotation from a favourite play of mine is, “I have always relied on the kindness of strangers.” Who hasn’t at some time received help, advice or kind words from some unknown person? What I love about befriending is that very soon that stranger can become a friend.

At the moment I regularly call a woman who is isolating. She won’t mind that I tell you she is not exactly young - well, I hope she doesn’t! I really enjoy our chats. Apart from that though, she is proving to be a real inspiration to me. She is so positive about life and still enjoys so many hobbies. Sometimes when I call her I, as a Carer, have had a very difficult time. I obviously don’t share my worries with her but when our conversation ends, I feel a lot better. What do they say? “Fake it till you make it”? It works for me. I’m really looking forward to meeting her in person at the Carers’ Centre. I’ll be giving her and everyone else a great big hug.

Donna, the Befrienders’ Co-ordinator always takes the time to pair people with similar interests or in similar situations. This makes it easier when meeting someone for the first time. It seems at first, like a strange coincidence, that you and this person you have met for the first time, seems to have so much in common. Then you remember the hand of Donna. When I met with one woman I befriended for the first time we were discussing films enthusiastically before Donna even arrived. At our first lunch together, we were pleased to find that we shared so many interests."