Befriend it like Beckham

Football, Friendship and David Beckham's tattoos. Why befriending isn't all coffee and cake

Helen & Emma befriending

Helen (86) and her befriender, Emma (27), find that they agree on most things - except, that is, when it comes to David Beckham's tattoos. "I really like them",says Emma. But Helen disagrees: "He's got too many now. He was beautiful without them. It's all right now when he's young, but just imagine what they'll look like when he's old and wrinkly like me."

Helen is a life-long Bristol City fan and Emma’s weekly visit usually start with a discussion about their latest performance. “We just have a cup of coffee and a chat,” says Helen. “I ask Emma what she’s been doing and where she’s been. She takes pictures on her Blackberry while she’s out and shows them to me. I’ve just seen photos of her drinking a pint of Guinness on St Patrick’s Day. I used to love drinking Guinness. It does you good.”

Emma has been visiting Helen as a LinkAge befriender since April 2011. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a long-term thing,” says Emma. “It’s been great that we get on so well.” She usually visits Helen on Wednesday evenings: “Helen likes to get her old family photos out and one time I bought round some of mine to show her. We can always watch a game of football if England are playing or watch a DVD together. Helen’s watched two Take That DVDs now.”

Helen was referred to the scheme by Community Nurse, Alison Sherwin. I didn't really have any expectations to be honest. I thought I'd just try it and see. But it turned out all right. It seems like I've known Emma for years, says Helen.

“Up until I was 80, I used to be able to drive and go out every day. I never stayed in. I’m not so miserable now because on a Tuesday, I think, ‘Emma is coming tomorrow’ and that makes me feel better. Something to look forward to in my dreary life,” jokes Helen.

So does Emma have any advice for anyone thinking of volunteering for the befriending scheme? “Definitely give it a go. I feel like I’ve got a friend as a result of it - which is much more than I ever expected,” she says.

LinkAge runs befriending schemes in the Lawrence Hill, Easton, Whitehall, St George, Bedminster, Southville, Henbury, Brentry and Stockwood. If you’re interested becoming a volunteering befriender or you would like to refer an older person to the LinkAge befriending scheme, please contact us at enquiries@linkagewestofengland.org.uk