In January this year, we were introduced for the first time to Olive through the BBC1 documentary The Age of Loneliness – a show that tugged at all of our heart strings and did so much to raise awareness about the loneliness epidemic in this country.
Straight away we could tell that Olive was a wonderful woman with a rich, rich life experience. Her story was unique and yet so familiar: born and raised in the Caribbean, she arrived to London as a young woman and crafted a life full of people and places. Later on, though, Olive had slipped into loneliness.
So when we learned that Olive lived in the heart of our patch in Holloway we made it our mission to bring her into the North London Cares network – so that she could share time, laughter and new experiences with some lovely younger neighbours who would in turn benefit from Olive's stories and personality.
Within a couple of weeks, we had found Olive and introduced her to Becca, a North London Cares volunteer who lives just two streets away. Through our Love Your Neighbour programme, Becca has been visiting Olive every week ever since, and the two have already built a special relationship.
So of course, when Olive turned 101 last week, Becca had to pay her friend a visit to help her celebrate (Olive's cousin just turned 107 so she’s obviously got strong genes!).
Here’s what Becca has to say:
"You wouldn't know that Olive's 101 – she's full of life with a passionate outlook. I've really enjoyed getting to know her over the last few months. She's lived in the area for over 60 years and hearing her stories about it are fascinating (she used to be a seamstress down the road from where I now work).
"We help each other out. I help her thread her needles so she can get on with her sewing, and she has lent me books and gives me advice about becoming a mother – my first baby is due later this year. Olive struggles to get out and about unassisted, so as the weather gets warmer and the evenings get lighter, we're going to head out to a lovely little park just by her house."
This kind of friendship and sharing of wisdom and help is exactly what North London Cares' Love Your Neighbour programme is about. Olive is a remarkable woman – she’s travelled to over forty countries in her life, and is a fount of stories, wisdom and humour that is a wonderful thing to experience.
Becca is looking forward to introducing her friend to her new baby when he or she arrives soon – that will certainly offer the largest age gap that the Love Your Neighbour programme has ever bridged!
Posted by on Tuesday 10th May 2016