I’m joining the team in Liverpool with a bit of background experience, having been an active volunteer with Manchester Cares for nearly two years now. Before joining The Cares Family, I could never have imagined the profound effect the connections I’d make would have on me. When I initially heard about The Cares Family I was drawn to the idea of community connection amongst the startling reality of loneliness in our cities, and the model of connecting young professionals with older neighbours really struck a chord with me.
While living in a busy, rapidly-changing city, such as Manchester or Liverpool, it’s easy to feel unsure of where you fit in. Manchester Cares gave me the community I was looking for, and suddenly I had local friends who’ve lived in the area for decades! I loved to hear the older neighbour's insights into the changing landscape of Manchester through the amazing stories they all told. It was like being backstage at a Martin Parr exhibition, hearing the anecdotes and personal tales of the area I loved but in reality, knew little about. After attending my first social club (Desert Island Discs - still a firm favourite of mine!) I left the community room with a massive smile on my face, feeling refreshed and invigorated by the welcoming atmosphere. I quickly realised that this was a special space, and I still count myself very lucky to be part of The Cares Family community.
Alongside Social Clubs, I’ve also been involved in both the Love Your Neighbour and Phone a Friend programmes. I’ve been lucky enough to be matched with my lovely friend Charles through Phone a Friend, ever since meeting him at a Social Club and really hitting it off. The first time we met was at Desert Island Discs - we chatted before the club kicked off and I must’ve made an impression because he changed his song pick to Who the F is Alice? by Smokie! I hope that gives you an insight into both his mischievous sense of humour and his encyclopedic knowledge of music!
Charles and I have been calling each other for almost a year now, and we both feel very grateful to have made a new friend in such a strange time. The topics of conversation meander each week - our recent film/music/TV recommendations, what we have been up to that week, how we’re feeling and everything in between. Some of my favourite chats with Charles are when neither of us have much to report! Instead we end up on tangents, Charles often divulging fun stories and us ranking our favourite custard accompaniments (his is Madeira cake, mine is jam sponge)! Our phone calls are a time when I can really switch off from what’s going on around me and be present in the moment, away from a screen. That being said, we are partial to a Zoom call now and again too! Often these calls descend into a show and tell of things around our homes. My dogs usually feature quite heavily, and Charles often shows me random novelty objects from around his home that have extensive backstories - see the meerkat in an LFC strip.
Charles was very excited for me when I told him about moving to Liverpool to start working for Liverpool Cares. I found out it’s his favourite city, and he’s been giving me lots of recommendations for places to visit when things open up again. Liverpool is known for being a welcoming and friendly city and so far I can definitely attest to that scouse charm! I went along to my first Liverpool Cares Social Club in February, a Virtual Pub Quiz, and was instantly made to feel like part of the gang. I’m really looking forward to getting to know this community, and hopefully, I can earn honorary scouser privileges at some point in the not-so-distant future!
As Love Your Neighbour Programme Coordinator, my job is to bring older and younger neighbours together and build long lasting and meaningful friendships. In my experience this programme creates really special and unique connections. If this sounds like something you would like to get involved with please get in touch and I can tell you a bit more about what we do. Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our community, and together we can work to counteract this with some of the joy new friendships through Liverpool Cares can bring.
If you're interested in getting involved with our Love Your Neighbour programme in Liverpool Cares you can email me at [email protected]. I'd love to hear from you!
Posted by Alice Taylor on Friday 5th March 2021
Alice Taylor is the Love Your Neighbour coordinator for Liverpool Cares. She manages our one-to-one friendship matching programme.