“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 2015/16
- We matched 51 volunteers with 54 asylum seekers and refugees.
- Most referrals for befriending come from health and children’s services, who recognise the significant impact that loneliness can have on both physical and mental health.
- Volunteers provide support for about 9 months, although some matches can continue for several years.
- Volunteers also provide practical support to the people they are matched with: helping people to access health and social care services, to make stronger connections with community organisations and to make friends.
- We secured 3 years National Lottery Funding to sustain and grow the project
- Befriending underwent a full evaluation during this period and can be downloaded here.