The Mayor of High Wycombe, Sarfaraz Khan Raja, attended the official launch of Buckinghamshire Mind’s peer support service Friends in Need Bucks on 12th October. The event aimed to raise awareness of this important new service and was held to coincide with World Mental Health Day at Buckinghamshire Mind’s premises in High Wycombe.
The event, which was attended by representatives from a wide range of organisations, including Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Healthy Minds, Connections and Rape Crisis, was an opportunity for potential referrers to find out more about Friends in Need Bucks. Guests were able to meet with Friends in Need members and volunteers, enjoy a performance from the Friends in Need choir, ‘Mind the Note’ and see demonstrations of activities such as belly dancing.
The Mayor of High Wycombe presented certificates to Friends in Need Peer Volunteers and a special certificate to Phil Healey, who volunteers for an incredible 58 hours per month (on average) for Friends in Need.
Friends in Need is a friendly peer support service that helps members to manage their depression and anxiety by trying uplifting, fun and free-of-charge activities. The groups provide a supportive and inclusive environment for members to come together with others who have had similar experiences.
Buckinghamshire Mind expanded Friends in Need to benefit residents of Buckinghamshire following the huge success of the service in East Berkshire. The new service is being funded by a grant provided by national Mind.
“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,” said a Friends in Need Member. “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.”
Peer support at Friends in Need brings people together, promoting community resilience and reducing loneliness and social isolation. The service empowers people to connect and to take responsibility, while also helping to increase motivation and self-esteem.
“FIN has given me a sense of purpose and of being part of a community where my presence and contribution are valued,” explained a Friends in Need Peer Volunteer. “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.”