The opportunity to make a lasting difference to the lives of individuals is the incentive driving a new campaign to recruit volunteers for a leading north-east charity.
Mental Health Aberdeen (MHA) has launched an appeal to attract new faces to its pool of befrienders in the Fraserburgh, Banff, Peterhead and Turriff areas.
Full training is provided to all volunteers, who must be aged 18 or over, and the charity has an experienced team leading the programme. The next induction training course will begin on April 29.
Befriending offers supportive, reliable relationships to people who would otherwise be socially isolated. A dedicated network of volunteers has served the north-east through MHA for a number of years but the charity is aiming to expand the service.
Flora Todd, manager of the MHA Companions befriending scheme, said: “When physical illness strikes, friends and family usually rally round. However, people experiencing mental ill health may not be so fortunate - their family may find it difficult to understand and cope with the feelings associated with their illness.
“Through our befriending scheme we provide vital support, encouraging positive outcomes and aiming to counter the isolation which only compounds many of the issues faced by those who benefit from the service.
“For those who volunteer it is a challenging but rewarding role and we are keen to hear from anyone who feels they have a contribution to make. We are particularly keen to hear from male volunteers as that has traditionally been a more difficult recruitment challenge.
“Our volunteers help by providing a listening ear, companionship and support to use community facilities and attend local activities. Befriending can play an important part in recovery, leading to increased self-esteem and self confidence. The focus is on improving the lives of those who seek our support.”
No experience is necessary, with training provided through a full induction course. Out of pocket expenses are reimbursed for active befrienders, with a time commitment of one or two hours per week required.
The befriending scheme is just one of a range of resources provided by the charity, which is active in towns including Fraserburgh, Peterhead, Banff and Turriff. Resources include: emotional and practical support; information and advice; support with helping overcoming social isolation; links and access to other community resources; activities promoting mental wellbeing.
MHA was founded in 1950 and provides support services, counselling and advice to people affected by challenges related to mental health and wellbeing. Services are available for children from the age of 12 and adults. The organisation was among the first to provide community care – with its first residential project, a group home for discharged psychiatric patients, opened more than 35 years ago. MHA has also been providing day services continuously for over 60 years.
Further information on the befriending scheme and volunteering opportunities are available by calling Flora Todd on 01779 470122, Jean Pryde on 01261 818330 or online at at www.mha.uk.net or www.companions.org.uk.