Finding connection in a time of isolation

The winter months can be hard for many, and with the added challenge of COVID many people can experience increased anxiety, isolation and loneliness. But thanks to a grant from Harrow Council, Mind in Harrow were able to help even more residents last winter with their Befriending project. Whether via self-referral, the NHS or the Mind helpline, support was there for those who needed it.

Mind in Harrow has been providing support, advice and advocacy to those with mental health problems for over 50 years. They know that there is no one size fits all solution, so everyone joining the project had a 1-2-1 assessment so help could be tailored, and people matched with a befriender to suit their needs.

For many, the Whatsapp wellbeing befriending group was perfect, with one programme user saying “the Whatsapp was a fantastic idea.” It provided the help and friendship needed to a group of 15 residents. Every day there was support, education and a structured programme focusing on daily goals and motivation to improve their wellbeing.

Zoom calls meant a regular wellbeing session could be held despite Covid restrictions, with the group requesting guidance where they needed it, including help with disrupted sleep, motivation, and how to overcome procrastination.

Having someone to talk to, and who understands what you’re going through helps, and befrienders also worked 1-2-1 with residents, via phone calls, or when covid restrictions allowed, a weekly walk and talk. For others short term text support whilst infected with Covid was invaluable.

Feedback at the end of a 15 week course demonstrated how valuable the project had been:

“There are things I can’t change but the things I can change are looking after myself better and working on my self-esteem. I learned a lot on what I can do from Mind and I will carry that on. It has provided an outlet to talk to people and engage with people (and) I feel as if there is help available and that people do care and I have improved (because) there are people who care about me.”

Everyone showed improvement, and all were linked into further support or activities to continue their wellbeing journey.

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