George has been visiting Wael once a week for eight months now. Read on to find out what being a part of Kilburn Good Neighbours means to them.
Wael, 69, has lived in Camden for over 40 years, working as a structural engineer – you can see his work on many of the bridges on the North Circular. George, 31, has lived in Camden for the past four years, moving to the West Hampstead area two and a half years ago. He works as a lawyer in Wembley.
Wael signed up for Kilburn Good Neighbours after searching for IT classes in his local area and coming across Abbey Community Centre. George came across the opportunity online and has been visiting Wael once a week since February.
They meet for an hour and chat about everything – from history and politics to football (‘though Wael prefers rugby’, George adds). “I learn so much from Wael – his knowledge of history and languages in particular is unbelievable.” George also comments that seeing Wael is a relaxing way to spend time as it gives you a different perspective on life.
Wael feels the same. ‘It’s good to see how younger people think… about politics, fashion and everything else. I’m 69 so most of the people I know are over 50 and George is my link to a younger generation, I’d have no connection otherwise. Although we found out that George’s girlfriend likes the same 60s and 70s music as me, like Fleetwood Mac!’
As well as the joy of learning from each other and widening their social networks (George has now met some of Wael’s friends and vice versa) Wael is especially grateful for George’s companionship as he has difficulty walking nowadays. ‘For someone in my situation, if you want someone to talk to, Kilburn Good Neighbours is the best way to get an introduction to someone. It’s very hard to meet anyone new otherwise.’
And George is equally happy to be a part of the scheme. ‘You definitely get more out of it than you put in.’
Teresa and Josephine have been taking part in the Kilburn Good Neighbours scheme for a whopping seven years.
In some ways they are a typical KGN pairing – meeting every Monday for a chat, scrabble and all-important cup of tea – however, as Teresa tells me, every person gets something different out of the scheme.
The pair are different from some KGN members as they choose to alternate whose house they meet at, depending on who feels like getting out and about that day.
Teresa heard about the scheme in the local paper and was doing visits with another partner before being matched with Josephine, who had contacted the scheme coordinator after her husband passed away.
Both are church-goers and sometimes Teresa will bring Josephine the newsletter from the Church when she can’t make it there herself – a great example of the simple ways in which a Kilburn ‘Good Neighbour’ offers not only company but a valuable point of contact with the outside world. Josephine adds that the scheme managers are great at answering any queries she has too.
Another thing they have in common is a love of classic board games – I ask who is the overall best scrabble player and they tell me it’s neck-and-neck. For both women, having someone to chat to about everyday things or any problems going on in their lives is really special.
A day out in Drummond Street for Dagmar, Carolyn and Shane…