Older people involved in an award winning befriending project have given pupils at Calderglen High School a glowing report.

Lord Lieutenant of Lanarkshire Lady Haughey  CBE  visited the East Kilbride secondary school to meet with the pupils and older people they have befriended and to hear about the project, and also to learn about other volunteering and outreach work the pupils undertake in the community.

Now in its ninth year the befriending scheme pairs up senior pupils with older people in the community around the school – the pupils visit on a regular basis, prepare food, help with odd jobs and outings, and sit down for a chat and a cup of tea.

Marianne Lamb age 85, said: “At my age having young people around is a great thing I have been involved in the project for a few years and the pupils have all been lovely and very helpful.”

Stuart MacKinnon is one of the pupils who visits Marianne, he said: “What I enjoy about befriending is the stories and the inspiration Marianne gives me to work hard and achieve my goals.”

The Befriending project is organised in association with Claremont Church and pupils also volunteer in Café Clare, the church’s community café, and help out with its Food Bank.


Helen Morton is one of the adult volunteers at the Food Bank, she said: “The young people are fantastic to work alongside, they turn up every week and work hard. Our adult volunteers tend to be on the rota once every four weeks so it is the pupils who are the regulars and help keep everyone right.”


Lady Haughey said: “This project creates a bridge between the young and the old who share this community and it is a wonderful thing to hear what both groups are getting from their involvement.”

78 year old Avril Anderson has been the driving force behind the befriending project and the pupils volunteering at Café Clare and the food bank, she said: “The Calderglen pupils are just wonderful and the support from the school is fantastic.

“I have seen people who have become isolated after the death of their partner come back out into the community and become more active thanks to their befrienders, I see the pupils put smiles on faces and hear such wonderful things about their attitude and commitment.”

During Lady Haughey’s visit one of the older people spoke of passing on the skills from her career as a nurse to her two befrienders who both hope to be doctors, another explained how the pupils helped her set up her new IT equipment and learn how to use it, while a third spoke movingly of having only his dogs for company following the death of his wife until the young befrienders brought humour, companionship and a renewed sense of fun into his life.

Head Teacher Liz White said: “This is not just about giving it is also about what our young people get back.

“I know of former pupils who have maintained the friendship long after they have left school, some have attended funerals to say a final goodbye and I have been told by families that has meant a great deal to them.”

Posted by Gavin Whitefield