A Befriending Project provided by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded the Approved Provider Standard (APS) by the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation (MBF).
The Befriending Project provides one to one support and encouragement to people who use Trust services who are experiencing mental health difficulties. It aims to aid recovery by supporting service users to interact with people who share similar interests and develop long-term friendships.
The misunderstanding and stigma surrounding mental health problems can often lead to people with mental health difficulties feeling isolated and alone. Through this project the Trust provides companionship to help aid their recovery.
MBF provides services, such as training, resources and membership, to help increase the effectiveness and quality of mentoring and befriending. Its Approved Provider Standard is the national quality standard specifically designed for mentoring and befriending projects.
To achieve the APS accreditation, which lasts three years, the Trust’s Befriending Project had to demonstrate that it fully met all 12 elements of the standard, which evaluate the key management and operational areas that underpin any effective mentoring and befriending project.
Mike Gartland, head of the Trust’s pastoral and spiritual care team that manages the project, said, “We are delighted to have been awarded the APS quality standard as this is a testament to the commitment and passion of our befrienders. The accreditation gives a guarantee that there are standards and securities in place and gives the scheme an added quality.”
People who use Trust services are referred to the scheme and are then matched up with a befriender according to gender, age and interests. The befriender and service user meet on a regular basis and participate in a mutually agreed activity.
Angie Barker, befriending project development worker said, “You can become a volunteer befriender if you are aged over 18 and can offer a regular commitment of time on a weekly/fortnightly basis, for a period of at least 12 months, to build and maintain a supportive relationship with a service user. Many befrienders have themselves been service users and have personal experience of many of the issues faced by people with mental health difficulties. All befrienders are provided with training to prepare them for the role and access to a range of ongoing training to further improve their skills and support their personal development. Staff from the project provide one to one support to befrienders and run support meetings on a regular basis.”
But it’s not just the service users who benefit from the scheme, befrienders have also reported that they have experienced an increase in their own self confidence and motivation as a result of being part of the project.
Ron and Bev are befrienders together. Ron said, “We have been seeing one gentleman for about 12 months and in that time he has come on leaps and bounds. During our time spent with him we’ve been able to find hobbies and interests that we can do together to help him engage. All I can describe the experience as is magic!”
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer befriender contact Angie Barker on 01924 327317 or email firstname.lastname@example.org