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Connecting Through Companions

Mind in Bradford’s service Connecting Through Companions has been providing befriending support to lonely and isolated individuals throughout these challenging winter months.

Connecting Through Companions is a befriending service which was set up for existing Mind in Bradford clients who cannot access our virtual support, as well as Yorkshire MESMAC clients and Alzheimer’s UK clients who have needed additional support throughout the pandemic.

Funding for the service came through national Mind from Pears Foundation and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The funding is part of the Government’s £750m charities package and was granted through Pears Foundation’s trusted, long-term Partners to ensure funding gets to frontline organisations and their communities.

The opportunity to start up the service came about very quickly and it was set up within one month. Two new staff were trained to support the launch and day-to-day running of the service.

Connecting Through Companions has supported 94 clients since its launch in September. Each client is matched with a volunteer befriender who has similar interests, and who gives them a call once a week for up to an hour.

Before the third lockdown, some clients and befrienders were able to meet in local parks for socially-distanced walks. Befrienders also dropped off cards and small gifts at clients’ doorsteps at Christmas.

One client said: “My befriender is soft-spoken, sits and listens. She’s brilliant and can talk about everything. I feel like I’ve known her forever.”

Another client said: “All the support you have given me has made a great difference to my life and alleviated any anxiety and stress I may have had.”

Donna, Volunteer Coordinator and manager of the service, said: “Befriending is needed now more than ever. We were able to react quickly when the pandemic hit and change our approach to telephone befriending immediately. We have seen the benefits of this for both clients and volunteers who are lonely at home, having to shield, furloughed and not having any human interaction, which is so important for our mental wellbeing.

“Just hearing a human voice really lifts people’s spirits and makes them feel as though someone cares. It also gives individuals something to look forward to each week.”

Sir Trevor Pears CMG, Executive Chair of the Pears Foundation, said: “Local Minds have done a fantastic job over the past year adapting their services and finding new ways to support people in their local community. We are very proud to support Mind and their network of local frontline charities during this challenging time.”

Posted on: 26th March 2021

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