#HCAVolunteers – Befriender Ziyi

Ziyi pronounced ‘Zi’ is studying her masters at UCL in Economics and Business.  Originally from Hangzhou in China, London has been her home since last July. Our Befriending scheme brings older people together with volunteers on a weekly basis.  Here Ziyi tells us what attracted her to the befriending scheme and why sharing stories has helped her friendship grow with older person Jean.  

“I found out about the HCA befriending scheme from the UCL volunteer website.  I used to do various volunteering at University back in China and really enjoyed it.  I like the idea of giving company to the ones that need you and especially the elderly.  

Jean is in her 90’s and is housebound with a carer each day.  I try to visit once a week for an hour for the past six months.   When I am there we talk and I share my life with her, every time I am with her I will take some photos of my life and talk about them.  

It is nice to build up a friendship over time with Jean and I enjoy spending time with her.  Mostly I speak more to Jean and she listens, and I am encouraging her to share more of her life.  Over time I have noticed she is sharing more stories with me and she is always happier afterwards.

Some of my friends think it is good what I am doing for the befriending scheme but believe you should just volunteer in the field you are doing your degree in.  Personally, I really like the idea of helping others and bringing something new – I find it really rewarding.

I’ve enjoyed studying and volunteering here in London, people I found are braver to be themselves.  I used to care more about other opinions back home, but I think I feel more comfortable to be myself. I plan to continue volunteering with HCA until September until I leave to continue my studies in Prague.” 

Lonely and isolated older people in Holborn, Covent Garden and Bloomsbury will be helped back into community life, thanks to a grant of £77,827 from London freemasons.

Interested in finding out more about our befriending scheme? Click here or contact kate.blackshaw@holborncommunity.co.uk.  Our scheme is kindly supported by London freemasons.

Click here to discover more volunteering opportunities at HCA.


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