Befriending: A Great Friendship Story – Brandon and Lionel

Brandon remembers meeting Lionel:

It was almost 6 years ago, when I saw an article in the newspaper about the number of people who were alone at Christmas and had no-one to share it with. It particularly referenced people in later years.

This struck a chord with me, so I contacted my local Age Concern in Colchester. At that time, they were not offering a befriending service, so I registered my interest and was later contacted to start the recruitment process.

I was matched with Lionel in February 2015 and have been his befriender ever since. 

Whilst Lionel is severely visually impaired, he is very alert and up to date with current affairs. He keeps up with current affairs, sport, and football by listening to the television and radio. Lionel is always very easy to talk to, we have lots of interests in common and seem to think on the same wavelength.

It has been a privilege to get to know Lionel and he has become a good friend. It’s a two-way friendship and if there’s one thing he has taught me, it’s not to dwell on the things that aren’t important.

Up until lockdown, I visited weekly, and we often went out for a short walk. Lionel is only able to do this if he holds my arm, so, currently with social distancing, this is not possible.

Lionel is inspirational

Covid-19 has really impacted on Lionel as he had developed quite a busy social life, although he has built-in resilience and always tries to look on the positive side. Lionel is inspirational, he’s had poor sight since birth and has had a hard life with regards to his visual impairment but always held down a job and faced adversity, so he’s not going to let this Covid-19 get him down too much. 

However, we need to find ways to operate safely within the rules.

Lionel takes up the story…

When the Befriending Co-ordinator mentioned that they are actively encouraging ‘’garden visits’, providing that both the client and volunteer agree to them, I was over the moon as it would make a real difference to my week as I can’t see things getting back to normal any time soon.

I recommend Age Concern Colchester and North East Essex’s Befriending service to friends as I enjoy seeing a friendly and familiar face and feel less lonely and isolated when I do. To feel listened to and understood by Brandon, makes me happy.

Brandon feels the same and has agreed to starting up ‘garden visits’ straight away, taking all the necessary precautions. Their first visit took place on 3 September and despite the weather being a bit gloomy, it certainly lifted Lionel’s spirits.

The two men have clearly developed a great friendship.

Whatever challenges come their way, Lionel and Brandon will face and overcome them safely with the guidance of Age Concern Colchester and North East Essex.