“When ever I got to this bridge, that would be it, my body was there but my mind just escaped, I would be paralized with fear, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t do anything. My befriender would help me by talking to me, reminding me of the things that made me smile. She would just talk to me about happy things to keep me distracted and calm. She would be by myside every time I had to travel and sign at the Home Office. I can’t tell you how much this helped me. When it was over she would tell me, it’s okay, it’s done, you did it and you don’t have to come back here again for another two weeks. She would say lets go and make some food and eat together. I can’t tell you how much befriending has helped me, it saved my life.”
The bridge on Kirkstall Road, on the way to Waterside Court: The Home Office building where asylum seekers are required to sign, to confirm their whereabouts.
Achievements in 2016/17
- We matched 51 volunteers were matched with 56 asylum seekers and refugees.
- We went on trips and activities to places like Roundhay Park, Leeds Museums, Saltaire and enabled refugees and befrienders to find out more about Leeds and to make greater social connections.
- All reviews of befriending support have demonstrated either reduced isolation, improved physical and mental wellbeing, or greater understanding of UK culture
The Befriending project underwent a full evaluation in 2015 and can be downloaded here.