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Article published on: Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Every year Buckinghamshire Mind calculates the number of ‘lives touched’ by the wonderfully diverse range of services we run throughout the county. Last year (April 2016 to March 20167) we calculated that we touched 4,885 lives. This year (April 2017 to March 2018) we increased this by a staggering 91%, touching 9,370 lives.

“This is a phenomenal achievement and shows just how hard our staff and volunteers are working to achieve our mission to deliver high quality community based services across the county of Buckinghamshire to reach out and ensure everyone with a mental health problem gets access to the help they need,” says Andrea McCubbin, Chief Executive of Buckinghamshire Mind.

“Buckinghamshire Mind’s strategy for 2016 to 2019 was to achieve a 10% increase year on year of the number of lives touched, so we are delighted that the lives of so many more people in Buckinghamshire were touched by our organisation in a huge variety of different ways during the last year.”

These figures demonstrate that we are delivering against our pledge that we will provide accessible and inclusive services that generate the right impact, are person-centred and enable people to live safe, purposeful and fulfilled lives in our community.

We have achieved this huge increase in ‘lives touched’ by growing our existing services, adding complementary services and launching new areas of activity. For example, we have developed our partnership with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and launched our mental health information website, the Bucks Mind Guide. In addition, our peer support services have become firmly embedded, with Mind the Gap flourishing and the expansion of Friends in Need. Our Peer Support in Schools service is working with more schools than ever before, while our Adult Counselling service now offers evening and weekend appointments.

We regularly request feedback from our service users to ensure that we are continually improving our services and meeting the diverse needs of the community. Below is an example of the difference our services can make to someone’s life.

The Benefits of Befriending

Sharon and Celia met regularly for one year. Sharon had been widowed just over a year before and had two teenage children of her own and was looking after her niece and nephew whilst their parents were at work. Sharon had been experiencing depression and anxiety for some years and felt she had very little control over her life. She had no family of her own nearby and her husband’s family relied on her for childcare. She had no friends and felt that her life was not her own.

Sharon said that because she had such a lovely, caring, supportive, thoughtful and non-judgmental Befriender, she felt more valued and more confident. She now regularly goes out on her own. Before meeting Celia, Sharon could only leave the house if accompanied by one of her children.

Sharon now has more choice in life; she can say ‘no’ to her relatives, simply because she feels more valued. Sharon had previously felt she had no choice other than to respond to her relatives’ requests by saying ‘yes’. Celia listened to her and encouraged her and suggested other ways of looking at problems, so Sharon realised that she does have a choice.

Sharon now goes to WAY (Widowed and Young) where she meets other people in a similar situation. She has a great sense of achievement because she hasn’t been able to go out to a social event on her own for many years. She is learning to look after herself and, although she still finds this difficult, she acknowledges that doing this helps her to feel happier and stronger.

Sharon is now having weekly counselling, which is making a difference. Since her husband died in a motorbike accident, she hasn’t had any support other than Befriending. She hasn’t seen a bereavement counsellor; she hasn’t been able to talk to anyone inside or outside her family and has become increasingly depressed. Seeing Celia each week, being listened to and heard, has helped her to see other possibilities in life and helped to understand that she needs to, and can, look after herself.

This was a very successful partnership. Sharon says that Celia was, “lovely, so accepting, kind and caring.” It was good for Sharon to talk to someone who could empathise and actually listen to her.

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