It was International Friendship Day on 30th July, a day set aside for the specific purpose of recognising the importance and power of friendships on an individual and international scale. This has got us reflecting on the importance of friendship, and how central it is to creating happy, thriving and resilient communities.

If you search online for quotes about friendship, you won’t be in short supply. They range from the short and whimsical words of Winnie the Pooh to the more cautionary tales of Oprah Winfrey-and everything in between!

But try and find a definitive definition of what friendship really means and you’ll struggle. In reality, how could anyone really drill down such a pervasive and impactful aspect of our lives into just a few words?

Friendship in Action

One way we could describe friendship is by saying that a strong community is a demonstration of friendship in action. The community groups we’ve funded and supported at Forever Manchester for over 30 years are all based on friendships of one kind or another, it’s the glue that holds our communities together.

Friendships, new and old, between people of all ages, all nationalities and all cultures, is what our Community Building team at Forever Manchester base all their work on. Put simply, their role is to make new friends in the communities they work in and then introduce their new friends to each other, forming an ever growing web of friendship in the process. We find out what people care about and what they’re good at, connect them to others with a shared passion, and watch the new friendships blossom.

It’s incredibly rewarding, has a huge impact on people’s lives and helps to strengthen and build resilience in our communities for the benefit of all.

Reaching out to our existing friends has not come without its challenges over the past few months, let alone the challenges faced when trying to make new friends. Thankfully, people are finding new ways to connect and with funding from Forever Manchester, communities are discovering how to come together and extend the hand of friendship to each other throughout lockdown.

Friendships are not just blossoming, they are blooming!

It’s these acts of kindness that mean that in spite of the difficulties, friendships are not just blossoming, they are blooming. The true measure of friendship – sticking together through the tough times – is being demonstrated in truly wonderful ways in the communities we support.

Lisa Brown our Community Builder observes that; “Once this pandemic is properly over there will be some lifelong friendships formed, just by the kind acts that have taken place within the community.”

Our friendships are a key part of who we are, they’re what makes us human and they’re what holds us together. So let’s celebrate our friendships and everything they mean to us. Let’s never forget to hold our old friends tight in our hearts and never stop seeking new friends in our homes and in our communities, forever.

Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001) – English Poet

Such love I cannot analyse;
It does not rest in lips or eyes,
Neither in kisses nor caress.
Partly, I know, it’s gentleness

And understanding in one word
Or in brief letters. It’s preserved
By trust and by respect and awe.
These are the words I’m feeling for.

Two people, yes, two lasting friends.
The giving comes, the taking ends
There is no measure for such things.
For this all Nature slows and sings.”

Date added: 5th August 2020