Clara has had Friendship Network befrienders for many years. 'The most inspiring one was America,' she says. 'The things she taught me about the computer - I'm glued to it! She taught me the dos and don'ts and I can now email and do Facebook. It's great. I can connect with my family in Canada, Jamaica and New York.'
Clara's befrienders usually spend two or three hours with her. 'They are more like family than a volunteer,' she says. 'My new volunteer Lorna is a comedienne. We have good chats and lots of laughs. She's getting to know what I like and is a tower of strength.'
Clara, who is nearly 80, has a lot of pain in her back. 'I live with my husband bu he had heart surtgery and is not at all well. I go to a class at the local gym twice a week and church on Sunday, if I'm not in too much pain. I want to remain independent for as long as I can and try to do a little at a time to keep my mind active.'
In Islington, Margaret’s situation is surprisingly common:
My husband passed a few years back, so I’m living alone. With the arthritis in my knees, I’m struggling to get out the house. I do see a few people daily: my neighbour, the shop assistant on the corner, and my carer who comes for half an hour. She’s so busy though that we barely get a chance to talk – she has a job to do, and nowhere near enough time to do it!