Cheryl, a Befriending service user, shares her experience of being in a Befriending partnership during lockdown:
“Lockdown has taken its toll on many peoples mental health, so it’s obvious that for those with issues beforehand the impact would be worse. Those most at risk are those living alone and socially isolated, which includes a high number with pre-existing mental health conditions.
“I am someone already struggling with mental health problems and very isolated. I have definitely seen a plummet in mood and heightened anxiety. I have also seen it in others as well.
“The answer is to provide support and human contact in some form. This has been a challenge for mental health charities such as Bucks Mind. They offer a wonderful Befriending service, which used to provide face-to-face contact once a week. Lockdown changed this and it became a phone service.
“Being assigned a Befriender gives people something to look forward to, lessening the monotony and isolation caused by lockdown.
“I had been in quite a good place before everything came to a standstill. I was provided with a lovely lady who has phoned me every week. We have wonderful conversations about books and what food we’ve eaten. Just normal everyday things, which takes my mind off my own thoughts for a while. These weekly calls have been the highlight of my week and have kept me going. We quickly realised we have got things in common which has provided good conversation starters.
“I was quite worried at first as I struggle with social interaction. But I need not have been as our chat flowed quite naturally and now I look forward to our weekly chats.
“I am so grateful to Bucks Mind for being creative and finding other ways to work in what are very challenging times.”
Under the new lockdown restrictions, we are continuing to provide telephone Befriending and some volunteers are also providing one-to-one socially distanced walks, if both parties are happy to do so. To find out more about Befriending, please click here.