They say friends are the family we choose for ourselves. Friends are there in good times and bad, offering someone to turn to for entertainment, solace, love, affection, comfort and just about every other social element that us pack animals need to flourish.

So important are friendships, that in 2011 the United Nations officially recognised and reinstated Friendship Day, which was originally founded back in 1919. And we still celebrate it today, on the first Sunday in August.

Friendships give you a sense of belonging, like you fit in somewhere. But for people who have retired from the fire service and lost touch, those who are housebound due to ill-health, or those who are recently bereaved, feelings of loneliness and isolation can quickly creep up.

If anyone knows the importance of friendships and maintaining social connectedness, it’s The Fire Fighters Charity’s Welfare team. Their mission to bring the Charity’s support out into communities includes helping people who feel isolated seek networking opportunities and ways to build those all-important friendships. They can provide a listening ear in terms of crisis and help signpost to information and activities to help reconnect those feeling disconnected.

In celebration of National Friendship Day, we sat down with the team to hear what friendship means to them. This is what they had to say…

“Friendship is what gets you through the bad times and helps you enjoy the good times.”

“Friendship is about caring for someone and being cared for.”

“A friend is the one who overlooks your broken fence and admires the flowers in your garden.”

“A friend is someone who is always there when I need them that I can talk to about anything and is honest, non – judgemental and absolutely confidential. To be comfortable with each other and pick up where we left off last time we spoke.”

“Friends are people who know you really well and like you anyway, all the therapy you need is a good friend and a coffee.”

Do you need someone to listen and don’t feel like you have anyone? Get in touch with our Support Line and see if the Welfare team can do anything to help. Call us today on 0800 389 8820.