Two’s (great) company: when Jean met Eileen

Jean and Eileen haven’t been short of conversations since they first met through the Marie Curie Helper service. They tell us what makes them such a great match. 

A great pair: Jean (left) with her Helper volunteer, Eileen.

Whenever they see each other, Jean and Eileen always have a brilliant time. Whether it’s visiting the local garden centre or supermarket to pick up a few things, or having a cuppa, the pair always has plenty to discuss!

Eileen says: “We just laugh and joke. We’ve been to so many lovely places together in and around Liverpool. We’re always thinking of new places to go, places that give Jean a change of scenery.

“We especially like going to a local garden centre. Jean has an absolutely gorgeous garden. She’s very knowledgeable about plants – I’ve never met anyone with such green fingers! We always chat about plants and flowers, and she’s given me plenty of advice. We often finish off the day with a cup of tea.”

Gardening tips: Eileen says she gets plenty of advice about plants and flowers from Jean.

A great match

Jean celebrated her 90th birthday this year. She has COPD and relies on oxygen to help with her breathing. Her son Neil lives locally and sees her often, and her daughter, Carole, who lives in Cyprus, visits whenever she’s able to.

As Jean lives alone, she started going to the day therapy centre at the Marie Curie Hospice, Liverpool, where she could enjoy a meal, play games, do crafts and meet other people.

When Jean couldn’t continue going due to her health, the hospice suggested the Helper service. It was then she was matched with Eileen, 81, with whom she’s found great company right from the beginning. 

Good times together: As Jean and Eileen have lots in common, they could chat for hours when they see each other.

Something to look forward to

As part of her Helper role, Eileen visits Jean weekly to provide companionship and practical support. 

Eileen says: “Jean’s a lovely, chatty lady and we hit it off from the word go. And although she has turned 90, you wouldn’t know it. She’s always beautifully dressed, always has her nails done.

“Jean keeps me up to date about her family news and I do the same. The three hours we spend together just fly by and we have a really nice time. We’ll be chatting away and I’ll look at my watch and see it's already 4.30pm, and I can't believe it's just gone by so quick!”

Jean says: “We have lots in common, and we sit and chat for hours. We often go out, which is lovely as I don’t have a car, and can’t walk far as I’m on oxygen and have to take that with me.

“It’s nice to have something to look forward to and get ready for.”

Green haven: Jean loves spending time in her beautiful garden that she had spent many years tending to.

Feeling very lucky

Eileen finds being a Helper volunteer a truly rewarding experience.

“I feel I’m contributing and I like to help people. It has had a big impact on me  out of all the volunteer roles I have had, I enjoy this the most.

“I feel very lucky to have been paired with Jean and enjoy finding out more about her when we meet up. I get lots of pleasure from seeing her happy. After recently losing my sister, I appreciate even more the support that the Helper service provides.”

Jean says: “The Helper service is brilliant. Without it, because I live on my own and can’t get out easily, I often wouldn’t see anyone.

“And obviously it helps if you get on as well as Eileen and I do.”

Both Jean and Eileen enjoy gardens and gardening. This shared passion gives them wonderful things to chat about whenever they see each other.

As one of the largest beneficiary of the National Garden Scheme, Marie Curie is proud to support its first ever Gardens and Health Week in August, which promotes the positive impact gardens have on people's wellbeing. 

The Marie Curie Helper service is available in more than 20 areas across the UK. If it’s in your area, you can contact the local service manager for support or to become a volunteer.