Pat has been involved with racing and horses all her life and receives weekly befriending calls from Emma (left) through Racing Welfare’s befriending service. Pat looks forward to the phone calls, having built up a strong connection with Emma.
We spoke to them to find out more.
Pat, tell us a bit about your background and when did you start the befriending calls?
Pat: I moved to Newmarket in 1964. My husband and I had our own yard. With horses, it was a seven days-a-week job and we never went on holiday, we said when we retired we would travel but he died very suddenly so it’s very different now and there’s not a lot to do.
I started the befriending calls with Emma, probably three years ago and Emma has been my befriender all along.
Emma: I usually talk to Pat for half an hour once a week on a Tuesday but because of the current situation (Coronavirus) I have confirmed with my line manager to give her an extra call each week because she is alone at home.
We hear you have built up a good relationship over the years, what do you talk about on the calls?
Pat: Yes, I’ve built up a really good relationship with Emma, she’s interested in what I’ve done and I’m interested in her and her family and what’s she’s doing. It’s general chit chat really and she’s interested in my past, she’s a lot younger than me but we get on very well.
Emma: We chat about everything; her friends, her aches and pains due to arthritis, her husband, her childhood, the war, what she did in racing and even social media. We speak about her dog which she misses terribly, her bucket list and her hopes and dreams which include to walk along the seaside. You name it, we talk about it.
I feel a very strong connection with Pat and feel like we’re very open with each other. The focus is primarily on Pat but she encourages two-way conversation. We work well together. She warms the cockles of my heart as they say in Ireland. I welcome her calls too as I work 12 hour shifts.
How do you feel the befriending calls have been of benefit?
Pat: I really look forward to the weekly call as I’m on my own, my husband died 16 years ago and being on my own it really helps. I have an iPad but I’m not very good on it but I like to have a one-to-one conversations, Emma and I bat off one another and chat non-stop, it’s lovely.
Emma: I think the befriending calls help Pat hugely with loneliness and isolation and other aspects such as personal things she might not feel comfortable talking to others about.
Emma, how do you feel the service has helped Pat since you started the calls three years ago?
Emma: Pat has definitely changed since the calls started. I remember my first conversation with Pat quite vividly, she spoke about her husband passing. The first few calls were directed around that era of her life, she came from a place of sadness and then one day she just relaxed.
Here’s an example from four weeks ago, we had a conversation about what she would like to do, like riding out a horse again, and I said we need to be realistic, and we have a joke about it. We joke a lot now but at the beginning she was lonely and missing her husband a lot. Her birthday was last week and she said it was the best birthday she’s ever had, she had so many calls and messages, she was so happy.
Have the befriending calls helped you through lockdown?
Pat: Through lockdown I look forward to phone calls, it can be lonely, I miss coffee mornings and getting out and about. So now I say what I spent on coffee, I spend on phone calls instead. Using email isn’t the same, it really cheers me up speaking to people on the phone.
Emma: Last week Pat was telling me how much she is saving not going for her cappuccino every morning. Every week we talk about different cakes and coffee.
Would you recommend the service to others?
Pat: I have mentioned the befriending calls to friends in the past and I hope to continue these calls into the future with Emma. We chat for half an hour every week which is a long time but we always seem to fill it up.
Emma: Pat has recommended the service to one of her friends who I’m starting befriending calls with this week. It’s a hugely valuable service and it really means a lot to Pat.
If you are interested in receiving befriending calls you can call 0800 6300 443 for more information and you can also find out more here.