Today is international Friendship Day, a day when the spirit of friendship and relationships are celebrated across the world.
The day has special significance this year because of the Covid 19 Pandemic and the associated impact on relationships. It’s a sobering thought that loneliness and isolation are even more endemic across our society as a result of loss and lockdown. It makes, however, the relationships that continue to flourish and blossom across all our networks all the more remarkable and invaluable.
Friendships in networks can be tough and resilient. The members in West Dumbarton have known each other for many years and always so supportive of each other. The members always do things as a group and keen to involve others too. During covid it was hard for some of the members not to see everyone as much as they used to but with things changing and remaining positive members are getting back on track again. Recently Frances organised a holiday for the members to Craig Tara to stay at the caravans. The members organised this themselves and had a ball. The fun didn’t stop there, when the members came back, they went on a day trip to Dunoon to go exploring and enjoy some food and a few pints. Meeting through Neighbourhood Networks members have created lifelong friendships. Life really is special when you get to enjoy it with friends’.
Friendships foster confidence and self-esteem. When Malcolm, Scott and Chris joined the Haddington network they did not have friends locally and could not travel independently or without paid support. After spending time with each other through the network meetings, outings and events they have become good friends. They have built on their confidence and self-esteem through mutual support and friendship. They now meet up at weekends often travelling on local transport for days out in Eyemouth and North Berwick. Without the friendship and peer support they found in Neighbourhood Networks their day to day lives would be greatly limited and unfulfilled.
The impact of friendships run deep. They are simply a life line. Whilst out and about R was receiving some harassment from youths in the street. R is most often very quiet and shy and so this was a distressing time for him as he was feeling targeted. R shared what was happening to him in the Wishaw 2/Bellshill WhatsApp chat which made members aware of what was going on. Whilst all members always look out for each other, members began particularly looking out for R a wee bit more by contacting him and checking in, offering to meet up with him when he was out and about and offering to walk him home. This has really shown to R that he has good friends around him and from observation after sharing his story with members and appreciating their reactions, he has become smore confident and open to members.
It’s easy to lose touch with people and sometimes in Networks old friends can reconnect with each other -. We have a recently new member in Wishaw 2 – Will who through Neighbourhood Networks has rekindled his friendship with fellow Wishaw 2 member Scott. Scott and Will are enjoying catching up after a few years through network groups and outings. On Saturday, Scott had a spare ticket to a football game and asked Will to go along with him. Very recently too Michelle and Natalie met up again after 7 and half years by reconnecting through the Network they are both members of.
Friendships are also infectious. RF has been a member of the Lanark Network since the beginning. She is very friendly and outgoing individual who is very enthusiastic about NN. She has told all her friends about the Lanark Network and sang our praises everywhere she goes. This has resulted in new members keen to join and get involved. All members are establishing friendships with each other and more recently, R has been supported by two other members to travel independently by meeting her at the bus stop prior to group activities.
The spirit of friendship is alive and well in Neighbourhood Networks. These blossoming relationships are so important to each member and together they make anything possible!