I’m excited to have joined the North London Cares family as the new Programme Coordinator for Love Your Neighbour and Phone A Friend in Islington.
Having been born in the Whittington Hospital, I grew up outside London. Spending my childhood in a small village, I couldn’t comprehend why my parents had decided to leave what I saw as the thrills and the excitement of The Big City. I couldn’t wait to come back as soon as I had the chance.
In my second year at University, by total chance, I ended up living very near to where it all began, in Archway. It was only then that I started to realise that as much as London has to offer, knowing your neighbours isn’t likely. My housemates and I loved exploring Hampstead Heath and checking out restaurants on Holloway Road, but it was only until a fire drill in our block that we finally met the people we’d been sharing a roof with for almost a year.
I realised how different living outside London had been.
It wasn’t until I finished University (and moved to South London) that I decided to do something about it. After some vague google searches, I ended up signing up to volunteer at the Royal Trinity Hospice, in Clapham. It was there I got to know two wonderful older gentlemen, meeting up each week to share our stories, pet photos, and at one point, to start up a “Blues Duo”(!).
I hadn’t really known what to expect, but I definitely had more fun than I’d imagined. I started to call London my home, rather than ‘where I’m living at the moment’.
Fast-forward 3 years and here I am coordinating a programme matching Older and Younger Neighbours in Islington, the borough I was born in, in my home town of London.
My first month or so at North London Cares has been part laughter, part lockdown. Being part of an amazing team has made starting a new job virtually a much less daunting experience. Although neighbours can’t hang out in person at the moment, seeing how they have been supporting each other through all of this is testament to their shared connection.
Chatting to neighbours who met on our programmes a while ago, as well as introducing new pals, I’ve seen so much kindness amongst both friends and strangers. One older neighbour said to me, “If you ever need cheering up, give me a call”, which sums it up really.
The pandemic has made many of us take stock, and realise how much we need our friends, our family, our neighbours. I’m so glad I can be part of something that helps foster connections in the city we call home.
Posted by Rosie Britton on Friday 20th November 2020
Rosie coordinates the Love Your Neighbour/Phone A Friend programmes in Islington.