The Fieldhead Befriending Project, which is run by the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, is appealing to local people to offer a few hours a month to help people affected by mental health problems.
The Trust provides mental health and learning disability services to the people of Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield and knows only too well that the misunderstanding and stigma surrounding mental health problems can lead to people with mental health illnesses feeling isolated and alone.
To help service users in the Wakefield locality develop long-term friendships and wider support in their communities the Fieldhead Befriending Project aims to help match people up with befrienders who share similar interests and live in their area.
The service has been established for many years and provides support to service users living in the community who find it difficult to make friends or meet people with similar interests. However, as the service has grown the need for more people signing up as befrienders has increased and the Trust is appealing to any local people who might want to get involved.
Befrienders are volunteers who can offer four hours or more a month, for a period of at least 12 months, spending time with people who use trust services that have similar interests to them.
Many befrienders have themselves been service users and have personal experiences of many of the issues facing people with mental health problems, but this isn’t essential. Infact, so long as you are over 18 years old and pass the necessary checks anyone can become a befriender.
Service users are referred to the scheme by various health professionals and they are then matched up with a befriender according to gender, age, interests and where they live. Meetings take place on a weekly basis in the community and consist of an agreed activity, such as shopping, walking or simply going for a coffee.
Speaking about the positive impact of the scheme project coordinator Glynis Stirling said, "One in four people are affected by mental health problems. The Fieldhead Befriending Project helps to encourage confidence in getting back into the community and result in many people feeling less isolated and lonely.
"We are looking for volunteers who are aged 18 or over and live within the Wakefield locality to assist in this project, by giving just two hours a week to meet up with their befriendee and take part in different activities with them."
If you have some spare time each week that you’d like to put to good use or have an interest you’d like to share the Fieldhead Befriending Project could be for you. To find our more contact Glynis Stirling on 01924 327317.