The Croftless Crofter: Nic Goddard

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‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’ is a saying we have all heard and likely used over the years.

There appear to be various interpretations of the proverb though suggesting it may mean that someone offering friendship when you most need it is the truest friend of all, someone who is in need of your help will be a true friend because they need you or that actually it should be ‘in deed’ rather than ‘indeed’ as in your true friends will show their worth by their actions.

Many of us are in need just now and many of us are offering help and friendship. In our small communities across the peninsula looking out for our neighbours has been a way of life long before coronavirus changed the pace and way we live.

Crofters and farmers coming together to share machines and labour at busy times for livestock or crops, swapping produce or crafts with neighbours, offering a lift or picking something up for a friend when you pop into town, informal childcare help or just being there with a cup of coffee and a friendly ear to listen.

It was this sense of community across the Highlands and islands which was a major factor in drawing our family to make our home here nearly a decade ago.

I have had some sort of voluntary role for as long as I can remember; from being one of the leaders in my children’s scout and guide groups when they were small, setting up a children’s reading group at the local library and volunteering as a shepherd keeping an eye on grazing sheep for the local council when we lived in Sussex, to being a director of the community trust
on the Isle of Rum and the car club initiative for the area.

Once we settled here in Ardnamurchan all four of our family found voluntary roles; with the local Cats Protection League, with the Hospital Transport Project, with Lochaber Women’s Aid and with Ewen’s Room mental health helpline.

It is in these voluntary roles that we find so much reward; often there is training required so we are increasing our skills and knowledge. Not everyone is fortunate to be doing something they love as a way of earning money but it is usually possible to match your passions, interests and
things you enjoy doing to a volunteering opportunity.

You usually meet like minded, interesting people and find yourself feeling good about what you are doing at the same time as helping others. Win: win!

When the full implications of lockdown and social distancing became clear various voluntary initiatives have sprung up around Lochaber offering shopping and medicine deliveries, telephone chats and check-in visits.

Having found myself furloughed from one of my jobs and with no work coming in from another, I signed up for a weekly shift with the local ‘Helping Hands’ phone line to take calls from anyone needing help.

There are more than 50 people volunteering just in this one small area, with the same sort of initiative running in most communities across the whole of Lochaber.

Most are reporting that they are very quiet and I am yet to take a single
phone call on any of my shifts. Everyone is hopeful that the reason for the lack of calls is a true lack of demand, but I have a suspicion that it may also be that people are not actually very good at asking for help.

It would appear there are far more of us offering help than accepting it just now, which is brilliant if it is reflecting the truth of the situation.

But I urge you, if you are struggling with anything whether it is getting out to buy food and supplies, even affording to pay for those supplies, dealing with having your children at home all day every day, with a domestic situation or relationship, or indeed with feeling lonely and overwhelmed by everything that is going on right now to reach out. Because there is a whole army of volunteers just waiting to help you and support you.

I’ve always interpreted ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ in a slightly different way. Being able to offer help to someone in need is an honour and a privilege. Feeling you have been able to do a good deed is one of the best feelings in the world.

If you need help then don’t think of it as asking for help – think of it as offering someone that wonderful opportunity to be a friend.

  • Sunart Helping Hands 01967 750832 email
  • helpinghands@sunartcommunitycouncil.co.uk
  • Acharacle Community Council 01967 431411 email c19acc@gmail.com
  • Lochaber Womens Aid 01397 705734
  • Ewen’s Room 0800 689 3317
  • New EwenMe phone line set up for matching people up for regular phone chats to combat social isolation 01967 750845
  • Lochaber Food Bank 01397 700212