In August 2016, Buckinghamshire Mind took over the operation of Friends in Need (FiN) in Windsor, Ascot Maidenhead from Depression Alliance. We employed a new coordinator in December 2016 to run the groups and expand the activities that were on offer.
We have worked hard to produce a varied and uplifting timetable, which now boasts around 48 activities per month. The activities consider the Five Ways to Wellbeing and members are highly involved in the structure and content of the timetable.
Some key events and activities have been a Christmas Party, a visit to the B.A Museum, a day of wreath making, watching a peer in a Christmas dance event, introducing two new craft activities and a snow drop nature walk. Regular activities such as a reading club, bowling trips, music evenings, mindfulness, UP Group and day trips have also been set-up.
We have put into action plans to recruit and train more peer volunteers, expanding the team from two members to six. A peer volunteer training course has been developed for the specialist role of peer volunteer within a group environment. Other responsibilities within the group help create improved self-esteem, confidence and a reduction in a common feeling of worthlessness.
Within the community, we are involved with the Building Better Opportunities project and the FiN Coordinator regularly attends the Mental Health Partnership Board and the Mental Health Forum monthly meetings within Berkshire.
Towards the end of the financial year 2016/17, plans were agreed to expand the Friends in Need service to include both Slough and Bracknell. We will establish and grow new peer-led groups to ensure they are accessible to those suffering from anxiety and depression across East Berkshire.
“FIN has given me a sense of purpose and of being part of a community where my presence and contribution are valued. This, in turn, has helped alleviate my chronic feelings of low self-worth and low self-esteem, which are the main triggers for depression for me in the past.”
What our service users says:
“If I hadn’t found Friends in Need, I would still be at home, shopping online, sitting and not washing my hair or showering for weeks. In May, I was suicidal but now I am starting a new job. Coming to FiN has given me back my self-confidence, got rid of my feelings of worthlessness and given my self-esteem a boost! Being open about my depression within the group has helped me to be open in my interview so my new employer knows about my mental health problems, which is a relief.”
– FiN Member
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