Case Study: Mearns Kirk Helping Hands

Sat 4 Nov 2023

Mearns Kirk Helping Hands is based in East Renfrewshire, offering one-to-one volunteer befriending to people aged 65 and over who are feeling lonely or isolated.

As a Befriending Networks member, their aim is to help older people in the area to feel more connected and improve their wellbeing as a result.

Befriending banter

Housebound with his 17-year-old tortoise Marty after breaking his hip, Ian was referred to Helping Hands in January 2023. He also receives ongoing treatment for cancer.

Mearns Kirk Helping Hands matched him with David, a volunteer befriender. They share lunch together at Ian’s each week, and it didn’t take them long to hit it off. Although Ian says he is someone who doesn’t talk much, David says he often 'can’t get a word in edgeways!'.

Their time together is driven by an identified 'West Coast of Scotland male banter'. Winding each other up has become as regular between them as eating lunch. Although they poke fun at one another, it’s clearly done in jest - their friendship is very much evident.

Ian and David share a love for music. Their tastes differ though, with the only thing they can agree on being Country and Western. Ian played in bands back in the day, while David goes to gigs regularly. Ian’s love of Elvis led to the pair watching the recent Elvis film in his home. For Ian’s birthday, David picked up a ‘Beware – Elvis Fan Lives Here!’ placard, which now takes pride of place in his living room. 

Getting out and about 

Visits to the shops have become possible since Ian’s operation in June, including a hunt for a new mobile phone, and to get passport photographs after Ian booked a Mediterranean Cruise in September 2024 for himself, his niece, and her husband. More importantly, the trips out have led to Ian bumping into old acquaintances, and the chance for a catch-up. 

The befriending relationship is one that works for both men. Ian describes David as ‘like part of the family now.’ When David says he looks forward to his visits with Ian each week, there’s an element of quiet pleasant surprise from the befriendee. 

'We’re more like pals' explains David. The retort comes quickly. 'Och, ah widnae go that far!' 

Become a befriender

Mearns Kirk is on the lookout for new volunteers to help make a difference in the lives of older people in East Renfrewshire. If you have an hour a week to spare to support those who feel lonely or isolated, please visit the Mearns Kirk Helping Hands page on the Befriending Networks Directory for how to get in touch.