11 November 2013 | Volunteering | Back to Blog

That’s what friends are for: Jemima talks about her experience of befriending

Me and John

About once a month (and more if I can make it) I travel to West London to visit my friend John. John is an 88 year old man who, due to issues with his legs, is essentially housebound. He is on a state pension and housing benefit so doesn’t have much money. Despite all of this he’s a pretty happy fellow who I really enjoy being around.


I think what he finds most difficult about his situation is the loneliness he feels as a result of not really being able to leave the house. So whenever I can I go over to his flat and spend an evening with him, we cook and eat dinner, share a bottle of wine and stay up late chatting. He has lived in his flat for almost fifty years and, although it sounds like a bit of a cliché, he is truly fascinating to talk to about how both London and the world have changed in all that time. My spending time with him is really mutually beneficial, as it really does seem that with age comes wisdom. I offer him the energy and enthusiasm of my youth and he offers me invaluable advice which he can give so well because of his vast experience.

Last time I went to visit him, something very exciting happened. His current lodger is a Romanian musician called Monooka, with the most beautiful voice which John really enjoys listening to (he is an ex-composer). She was due to sing that night with her band at a friend’s birthday party at a restaurant close by. After some gentle persuasion, John agreed to get a taxi with Monooka and me to the party. We spent the evening listening to beautiful Romanian music and didn’t get a taxi back until 1am! John was elated, as were Monooka and myself. We had had a wonderful evening, John said the pain in his legs had gone and that he felt truly young again.  All in all, it was a fantastic night. I always look forward to going over to see John and the knowledge that he really appreciates it and it makes him happy makes it all the more worthwhile!