Renuka (Sri Lankan refugee, 50s) had been in the UK for over 10 years but her refugee experience had sapped her confidence. Despite being shy, she connected straight away with Anna (London befriender, female, 60s), a professional musician whose gentle manner enabled her to feel at ease.
Conducting their relationship online, they shared examples of their creativity: Renuka displaying her craft work and art, Anna playing her music. Anna’s encouragement, friendship and practical support (helping with her English, giving her an old laptop) allowed Renuka to blossom: she took her driving theory test and enrolled on a childcare course, becoming a keen student and active participant in class. Their weekly sessions became an enriching experience that both women looked forward to.
ANNA on RENUKA:
She brings so much to our meetings. Sometimes we fall into silence – something that can actually be quite hard to do with others – we just gaze at each other lovingly. It feels a great gift. Renuka is extraordinary, we still haven’t met in person really, it’s been entirely online but we do incredibly well together. From the second meeting I’ve been thinking ‘I’m seeing my friend’. We both can’t wait to meet. She is very busy at college, she loves being first to raise her hand, when she knows the answer. She shows bravery. I feel very lucky that she Zoomed into my life!
RENUKA on ANNA:
Usually I am a shy lady, before not talking with anyone. When talking with Anna I improve my confidence. Now I am not shy anymore, I am talking to other people. Before I don’t like to go to society, I don’t like to talk to other people, but now I am completely changed, have confidence, not scared. I feel not different, I feel I am the same as British people.