Here at Connectforce we love making connections and getting people chatting.
And sometimes our Companion Pairs get on so well that they want to continue their conversations after their official programme ends.
Here’s just some of our long-term chatters’ stories:
Jessica and Bill
Jess and Bill had their first zoom call on the Companions scheme back in February of 2021, just after Bill had recovered from Covid. They quickly hit it off and continued their friendship throughout the year. Sadly Bill passed away towards the end of 2021 but Jess takes comfort in knowing how much they enjoyed each others’ company in Bill’s last days.
Here’s her story:
I'd been told that he liked gardening so I'd sent him photos of my tiny London decking garden while he was ill and a card to say how much I was looking forward to getting to know him. I realised very quickly that due to Bill being hard of hearing and needing Claire (his care worker) to relay a lot of what I was saying, that I would be as visual as possible! If I went to a gallery or saw some lovely blossoms, I always thought to take photos to show Bill and he really enjoyed looking at them. I also made silly signs for Easter or a random 'Happy Saturday Bill' and he liked that a lot.
We clicked in our very first session actually, when I asked him about being in the army and he mentioned India which is a country I've visited a lot. We started chatting away about spicy food and the lovely people there and it was just easy. Bill had such a wonderful sense of humour and such a witty, playful side to him that we were a perfect match! I remember early on he was wearing a really nice jumper and I told him I liked it and quick as a flash, with a twinkle in his eye, he replied 'well you can't have it!' One week he was wearing a hat so I told him I needed one too and came back wearing a cowboy hat which he thought was hilarious.
When I discovered he was a Cancer and I'm a Scorpio I said to him, 'Oh! That's why we have a connection!' Quick as a flash, with a little smirk, he replied, 'I'm not sure I see the connection, but I'll take your word for it' and burst out laughing. Cheeky! Very cheeky.
It was so magical when he laughed. I really wasn't expecting to get so emotional over our connection. When he would say he was 'fond of me' or that seeing me every Saturday was a 'breath of spring air' or when he called me 'little lady' it would blow me away. He would always thank me so much for being there with him and when I checked if he would like to meet the following week it was always met with a huge 'oh yes!' I could really see how important our meetings were to him.
The connection meant a huge amount to me because I knew how much it meant to him. I'd hang up the video call and be buzzing afterwards. He was always so happy to see me and would tell Claire how we were 'great friends' which felt so special. It was definitely a mutually beneficial connection; seeing him laugh filled me with joy and made me feel validated at a time when so much was spinning out of control in the pandemic and I was spending 98% of my time alone. Loneliness was the dominating emotion for me through lockdown and I decided to carry on chatting to Bill after we finished our 8 weeks of sessions because it cheered me up to know that I was brightening his weekend. It gave me some purpose to offer companionship to someone older, more isolated and alone than I was and our connection definitely helped to stave off the loneliness in those 20 minute chats. And who wouldn't want to hear his cool stories about riding a Triumph motorbike round Yorkshire or have him belly laugh at my pathetic attempts to grow vegetables?!
I have lots of favourite memories of our time together. I loved it when something I would say would unlock magic moments and he'd tell me about his sisters or how he used to get into trouble at school. But my favourite memory is seeing him on his birthday after I sent some Yorkshire beers to the care home for him. I covered myself in birthday bunting, made a Happy Birthday sign and watched him let go of the sadness he felt at his family not coming to see him.
Bill passed away in November and Saturdays don't feel quite as special as they used to; I really miss him. I'm so grateful for the time we had together and for the things our connection taught me. I'll always think of him when I'm gardening, looking at a beautiful view or running into the freezing cold sea because as dear Bill said 'ohhh you've just got to jump straight in...never mind the cold!'