Befriending and bluebells bring hope

Wed 15 Apr 2020

Charlotte is a story chaplain and volunteer befriender with Time to Talk Befriending, which supports older people experiencing loneliness in the communities of Worthing and Brighton & Hove kindly shared with us how befriending and bluebells brightened up a day. (the names of the befriender has been omitted to respect their privacy)

"This morning I spoke to my new telephone friend Jill. She is over 80 years old and is living with dementia. At the start of the call she was low and tearful, and shared, ‘If I’m honest, I’m depressed. So many people round the world are suffering right now, and it’s just awful’. We chatted about the challenges in the world, and shared how we were encouraged by Captain Tom, the 99 year old veteran raising funds for the NHS.

After we chatted a bit more about television (Eastenders), the British temperament (reserved), and favourite holidays we’ve enjoyed (Italy), I asked what she could see out her window. Jill told me about a dandelion she’s had her eye on for the last few days, wanting to pick it, but not having the energy to leave the house. She said in the past her garden was her pride and joy and she spent every moment she could outdoors, especially this time of year. Jill said, ‘It’s all wild now, just awful’. I said I knew it wasn’t how she liked it or had kept the garden in the past, but that the overgrown look could be pretty, and it was definitely great for wildlife. She seemed unconvinced, and we started talking about seagulls, a conversation we often return to. In Brighton the seagulls are never far off, and always a solid talking point.

At the end of our call - which was just over half an hour - Jill sounded much brighter than she had at the start of the call. Our conversation had lifted my mood too, as we’d both been looking out our windows and describing all the signs of hope and greenery we could see.

Five minutes after our call, the phone rang. It was Jill. Thinking that something might be wrong, I answered the phone to hear her exclaim, ‘Bluebells! There are bluebells in my garden! I hadn’t seen them before, before the curtain was pulled across the window! After our phone call I went into the back garden to see more, and there they all were. It was lovely, like being in the woods! They would never have grown before, I wouldn’t have let them!’ 

C.S. Lewis said that ‘delight is incomplete till it is expressed’. Jill's call to share her joy at discovering the bluebells completed her delight. And not only her delight, it made my morning, too. What a joy to have a friend to share such a back garden discovery with, a sign of growth and hope that was there all along, waiting to be discovered. 

Who can you look out of the window with today? Open the window if you can. What can you see, hear, or smell? The more we look, the more we can see, share, and delight in."

Thank you Charlotte for sharing this story and all the volunteers and community members who are brightening up someone else's day in the ways you are able to. Your time and efforts are appreciated and are making a difference to many.

If you have a 'good news' story you'd like to share with Befriending Networks, email: