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Brandon and Lionel’s story

Brandon was reading a newspaper when he saw an article about the number of people who were alone at Christmas. It particularly referenced people in later years. This struck a chord with Brandon, so he contacted us and applied to become a volunteer friend.
We matched Brandon with Lionel.

Lionel was born blind but at the age of 5 he regained some sight in one eye, which meant being sent to a local school. However, Lionel struggled. He couldn’t see the blackboard or join in with other children. He soon rebelled and became the ‘naughty boy’ of his class.

When he left school, he was trained by the RNIB to become a telephonist for Barclays Bank, where he stayed for 27 years.

He met his wife later in life and they married when he was 60. Sadly, she died in 2012 and Lionel became lonely. His step-family visited delivering meals and shopping but it wasn’t enough to keep the boredom away.

Now aged 94 and living on his own, Lionel spent most of his time listening to the radio.

Up until lockdown, Brandon visited Lionel weekly, and they often went out for walks. Lionel is reliant on walking whilst holding someone’s arm, so these kinds of visits are even more important.

“Whilst Lionel is severely visually impaired, he is very alert and up to date with current affairs. He keeps up with sports, and football by listening to the television and radio. Lionel is always very easy to talk to, we have lots of interests in common and seem to think on the same wavelength.”

The lockdown was particularly hard for Lionel because it meant he had little contact with the ‘outside world’ but he continued to enjoy a weekly catch up with Brandon on the phone.
Lionel said, “After meeting Brandon, I immediately thought ‘I quite like this chap, he’s not bossy’ and I think we clicked.”

“It has been a privilege to get to know Lionel and he has become a good friend. It’s a two-way friendship and if there’s one thing he has taught me it’s not to dwell on the things that aren’t important.”

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