Friendship matters in times of need

Updated: 29 Mar 2024

Our CEO, Jane Nelson, reflects on King Charles’ Easter message as he stresses the importance of acts of friendship “especially in a time of need”.

Jane NelsonThe King is correct. We benefit greatly from those who extend the hand of friendship to us, especially in a time of need.

King Charles’ Easter message, which highlighted the supportive power of friendship and the comfort it brings, was moving and valid.

It’s easy to first think about friends as the people you enjoy spending time with, and have fun with, but it goes much deeper than that. They are our protectors – the people who have our backs when we feel our world is falling apart.

In recent years, I have sadly faced a number of bereavements within my family and of friends I care deeply about. The support I received – phone calls, emails, letters, people stepping forward to offer practical and emotional support – was beyond words.

Such friendship and kindness, without question, helped me to cope and move forward. I knew I wasn’t alone, and I had people looking out for me and who cared.

Friendship matters. It helps you to navigate the dark and difficult times that life deals you, and gives you the light and hope you need to heal.

“The true worth of friendship isn’t realised in how friends fare when the sailing is smooth, it’s in how they help us weather through life’s storms too.” The Oddfellows

The ‘protective power of friendship’ is something we have been advocating as a friendly society since our earliest days back in 1810 – when a pioneering group of workers came together in a pub in Salford to look at ways in which they could better support each other and the people around them.

Our purpose as a society is to help people through the ups and downs of life. This starts by creating opportunities for friendships to form and flourish so people can build these supportive networks around them – ones that bring joy and also ones that have their backs.

Sue Davies stood at a table where four other women are seated
Following her husband's death, member Sue Davies (centre) has created a strong, supportive circle of friends around her at Cleveland and Durham Oddfellows. Read her story.

If you are unaware of the incredible work of our branches across the UK and near 40,000 Branch-based members, and how they are improving the quality of people’s lives through friendship, care and charitable support, I urge you to cross paths with them at one of their many community-based social events.

You’ll see the immeasurable power of friendship in action – supportive, local, thriving communities of people who genuinely care about the welfare of those sat next to them, and even that of the newcomers walking through the door whose names they are yet to learn.

Marilyn smiles with three other women
Member Marilyn Hayward (second from right) found a renewed sense of purpose through the friends she has made at Reading Oddfellows. She now volunteers her time to help other members. Read her story.

All are welcome and offered a hand of friendship at the Oddfellows. The value of this gesture is not weakened by our extension to all because we firmly believe that we can achieve so much more together as a community than we could alone.

On behalf of the Oddfellows, we offer our friendship to King Charles and the Princess of Wales, and their families, and are hopeful of their successful cancer treatment and full recovery.

I wish you, your families and all your friends – the family we chose – a wonderful Easter.

Yours always in friendship

Jane Nelson, CEO of the Oddfellows