14 months ago, Kirsty started visiting her older neighbour Shirley through our Love Your Neighbour project. Each week Kirsty has made a 10 minute walk from her office to Shirley’s. Armed with cake, they’ve spent over 80 hours chatting the evenings away; from bad date stories to revisiting how Shirley inherited her cat ‘Monkey’. The friends even took a trip to the West End to see ‘Kinky Boots’!
"It’s an important part of my life. I dread the day I forget to bring cake, that’s our thing." – Kirsty.
So, it was with a heavy heart Kirsty shared her big news with good friend Shirley – she was moving 16,893 km away for a new life in Australia. Nevertheless, as Kirsty put in place her final plans Shirley was never far from her thoughts. Keen to find Shirley a new match, so someone else could experience the joy, warmth and laughter she had through the friendship, Kirsty shared her story with her co-worker Alice who was instantly enthused. Alice signed up to Love Your Neighbour and Kirsty was able to introduce the pair on her last visit to Shirley.
"I enjoy spending time with Kirsty – it's good for me, as she’s quite different. But she’s so easy to talk to, I never have to think of what to say." – Shirley
Kirsty’s final visit was an emotional one but as usual, the conversation and laughter flowed. Shirley spoke about how she instantly valued Kirsty’s first few visits and had converted her coffee drinking habits to tea in a bid to make the hot beverage making process easier. Unknown to Kirsty, Shirley never really drank tea until they met, and it wasn’t until this last visit that Shirley revealed her long-kept drink secret. The three chuckled in light of Shirley’s confession whilst embracing a hot mug of tea, with Shirley relishing each sip in light of her conversion.
As Alice and Shirley embark on their new-found friendship, Kirsty is jetting off to start another adventure but the friends have vowed to become pen pals and maintain that special bond. Kirsty told Shirley 'it’s not a goodbye, it’s we’ll see you later'.
We’re looking for volunteers in Camden, keen to connect with their community and build a friendship like Kirsty and Shirley. If you’ve been inspired by their story and would like to learn more please email [email protected].
Posted by Francesca Lewis on Wednesday 30th January 2019
Francesca runs the Love Your Neighbour Programme in Camden at North London Cares