I discovered The Cares Family during lockdown. I had moved back to my hometown in Dorset from London after my job and internship fell through. It was a really tricky time for me, as it was for everyone. I had returned to my childhood home and felt like I was taking a few steps back unsure of how to move forward.
During those months I started volunteering as a Coordinator for my town’s Covid response helpline. I became part of a small team working with volunteers to help people access the essential support they needed, be that medication, food, hospital transport, garden maintenance or a shopping ‘buddy’.
I spent every day talking to all kinds of people, learning about the lives of people I’d probably passed a thousand times in the street but never interacted with before. The parents and cousins of people I went to school with, the children of teachers I’d had, the grandparents, the friends, the local cab drivers. I felt honoured to be having these conversations, and to be able to listen, laugh, joke and connect with people at a time when connection was so difficult to find.
Those months in Dorset made me reflect on my pre lockdown life in London. I realised how lonely and disconnected I’d been feeling without ever acknowledging it. My days had been filled with friends and work, but I hadn’t been connected to a community where I belonged to something bigger than myself and my life. When my brother showed me North London Cares I knew immediately that it was something I wanted to be part of. When I saw that they were looking for a Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator I was overjoyed by the idea that I could actually work for an organisation that put kindness and community first.
My first month as Outreach Coordinator has been a beautiful whirlwind. I have loved speaking to older and younger neighbours, learning about their lives and the communities in North London. The team at North London Cares have made me feel so unbelievably welcome and at home which is an impressive feat when the majority of our interactions have been online. I cannot wait to continue the brilliant work that The Cares Family do, and continue supporting older and younger neighbours to create communities where everyone feels as welcome as I do.
I’d also like to make a small shout out to the staff of the Grey Gull Hotel in Argyll, Scotland, who, on a wet and blustery day, let me do the North London Cares interview in one of their guest rooms. I’d been camping in a campsite where the internet was ropey and my tent even ropier in the battle against tempestuous winds. The lovely team at the Grey Gull took pity on me as I very frantically searched for a dry space and stable internet connection, so a big thank you to them as I wouldn’t be writing this otherwise!
Posted by Tilly Jeune on Friday 20th November 2020
Tilly is the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator at North London Cares.