As the supermarkets have become full of bunches of red roses, heart shaped chocolates and cheesy Valentine’s cards lots of us may have been thinking of what to get that special someone in our lives, or where to book for a Valentine’s meal out.
However, in this whirlwind display of romance, other just as valuable types of love can be overlooked.
The Love Your Neighbour programme at North London Cares connects older and younger neighbours to spend time getting to know each other one-to-one. Neighbours of different ages share stories, interests and conversation on a regular basis.
Polly and Audrey have been meeting up as part of the Love Your Neighbour programme since April last year. Polly told us about why she enjoys meeting up with Audrey:
"I love visiting Audrey every week. Audrey and I have struck up a great, easy-going friendship. Just because there's an age-gap doesn't mean we don't have a lot in common.
"For example, we both love theatre, reading, ginger biscuits and car boot sales. We also listen to each other’s problems (Audrey always has great advice). And most importantly, we make each other laugh."
Audrey really values her visits from Polly, who she says is ‘just lovely’.
"Polly is so caring. When she and her husband took me out to the carols at Union Chapel before Christmas, it was like magic. Polly’s husband got me a book of crosswords for Christmas because he knows how much I like them, and how Polly and I enjoy doing them together."
Polly explained why she had wanted to be a part of the Love Your Neighbour programme:
"I've always wanted to spend time with an older person in the community as I'm so aware of the unnecessary isolation they can feel which is purely through circumstance. There are so many older individuals who have so much to offer, are fun to spend time with and who you can learn a lot from."
Mary Ann, another volunteer on then programme, who spends time with her friend Maria, agrees:
"There’s so much knowledge exchange and more importantly great memories being made. I feel like we're just friends and not part of a programme, but I know that it's important that the programme exists because I don't know how else we’d have met and I wouldn't feel as connected to a community as I do through Maria and North London Cares."
Love Your Neighbour provides a platform through which younger and older neighbours can be introduced and get to know one another, enabling people to feel more connected to their local community and to make a new friend.
So with Valentine’s day been and gone, why not have a think about a different kind of love? One that lasts all year long...
Posted by Helena Kipling on Wednesday 15th February 2017
Helena the Love Your Neighbour Programme Coordinator at North London Cares.