Experience – Befriending

Reaching personal goals and moving on thanks to Befriending

When I was first referred to FDAMH for a befriender I was just sitting in the house all day because I didn’t have the confidence to go out.

I met with Stuart (Service Manager) at the centre and we had a chat about befriending and what I might want to do.

I was matched really quickly with a befriender and we arranged to meet every week in Falkirk. At first I really had to push myself to go, but I did. We got on well and had a good laugh. My befriender seemed to know what I was feeling and it seemed to me he used his skills to help and encourage me to regain my confidence.

We went to Wotherspoons for lunch when it was busy and to the Howgate when it was busy and this built up my confidence in busy places. We also did some fun things like having a wander round the charity shops.

I’d say that my confidence is at about 95% now and I’m able to get out and about on my own. I’ve now got things in place that keep me busy every day.

I feel that the befriending has achieved what I wanted it to achieve and I am able to move on under my own steam. My befriender can now do a similar job with someone who was in the place I was in.

Tags: Befriending
15/09/2016 at 2:40 pm

The sense of accomplishment as a volunteer befriender

I felt a great sense of accomplishment after every befriending session in knowing my befriendee had gained something positive from the experience. I have enjoyed seeing small changes, her confidence has really improved and so has her independence – ordering her own food for example. We have had some great days out walking, cinema, shopping, bowling but it was sometimes difficult to make concrete arrangements and there were last minute cancellations. Stuart (Service Manager) stepped in when required and we had regular meetings, very supportive.

I found the training to be detailed and informative giving me the necessary skills to be an effective befriender.

Tags: Befriending, Volunteering
15/09/2016 at 2:37 pm

Social Prescribing and then Befriending helped beat terrible anxiety

I have always been an outgoing adventure seeker … I travelled all over and never had a care … In 2004 I was walking my dog when a tall man started yelling at me he was angry and mentally abusive.. there was no reason for his outburst but such a small act left a massive impact on me .. I was badly shaken.

A few days later out shopping with my partner I collapsed in a supermarket unknown to me I was pregnant .. I awoke to a sea of strangers all crowded around me .. it was the most horrific experience of my life I was absolutely terrified ..i have never felt so helpless ever and felt so incredibly shamed to have been stared at by so many at an obviously traumatic time. I passed out a further 2 times trying to get out of the store too quickly.

From then on I could not leave the house .. I spent 4 years too terrified to leave the house .. I couldn’t make it out my front door without having a full blown panic attack .

Both situations together in a short space of time knocked my confidence to the ground ..

When I had my baby I tried so hard to force myself to go out … after facing my fears a few occasions I found that I could travel in a car with family although I still had panic attacks and could only walk very short distances with family by my side it was still nerve wracking I managed to overcome the panic attacks and control them somewhat with my safety nets, bottle of water, sugary sweets, rubbing the sharp end of a key down my thumb just to keep myself in control.

I eventually lost all my friends due to my refusal to socialise – all I had was my family who lived a half hour drive from me .. I was not able to pluck up the courage to get on a bus or take a taxi so I had no way to get to my family whenever I wanted or on my bad days when I felt I needed them most.

After seeing many therapists over many years I gained some control over my life although I still could not go anywhere without a family member .

My doctor eventually referred me to FDAHM for therapy which helped immensely. I found the therapists (Social Prescribing Practitioner) actually listened to me and helped me with coping strategies, and helped me to control the fear and not let it rule my life anymore …

Then I was referred to the befriending scheme which really turned my life around .. at first it was completely nerve wracking the thought alone of going on a bus with a stranger terrified me .. actually made me have panic attacks sitting at home thinking about it … but meeting with Natalie I found her so relaxed and friendly and completely understanding of my situation never judging me only encouraging and helping me to see the positives in every situation .. she also reminded me to always be proud of my achievements no matter how small they are .. and by taking baby steps she encouraged me to do what I felt comfortable and never pushed me to do anything I felt would be too much for me.

She showed me that there was so very much in life that I have been missing out on even day to day things like going for a cuppa or going shopping its truly exhilarating now to be in a position where I now have found the confidence to get up and go whenever I feel like it without having to worry or panic ..

I never in my life thought I would do even half the things I do now I go on the bus by myself , I can go to my child’s school plays .. I never blink an eye at the thought of panicking now because I have learned through FDAMH that I can control my fears and I have and will continue to do so.

Without FDAMH I guarantee I would not be in the position I am just now of enjoying life to the full and I will be eternally grateful to everyone at FDAMH who has helped me on my journey. It has been difficult and sometimes very challenging but I could not be more proud of myself for facing those fears and not letting them rule me. FDAMH has given me my life back.

Tags: Anxiety, Befriending, Panic, Social Prescribing
15/09/2016 at 2:21 pm

Great personal development in volunteering with FDAMH

On a personal level I am very happy volunteering with FDAMH. There is great support, personal and emotional and great training. After my initial training I was equipped to go into the role. The training was valid and relevant to the volunteering role and situations you may find.

On a professional level I really like the extended training opportunities, there are many areas of training and it gives me an insight into other areas that I can bring to my own work or other areas that I may work in, in the future. It also gives me new connections to people. The training gives me a better perspective of how the healthcare system works and also how professionals work with each other, linking their work. I am able to see what type of issues there are and who to contact.

In my work I deal with a lot of students. They ask a lot of questions about expectations of work and volunteering. Because of all the training I am able to give direction and information and it has helped raise my confidence as I am able to give accurate information.

Since I started volunteering with TAB I have noticed an improvement in my befriendee, their confidence is building and is more positive. We both enjoy our meetings very much.

Tags: Befriending, FDAMH Training, Volunteering
15/09/2016 at 2:05 pm

Befriending – one of the best experiences of my life

I was referred to FDAMH by my psychologist. I had let myself become socially isolated and was spending most of my time in my house not seeing people. I felt unable to break the cycle I had got into by myself and I discussed it with my psychologist and she referred me to Jane Shirra with the Link Service at FDAMH. During discussions with Jane about things I could do to become less socially isolated she told me about the Befriending Service that FDAMH offered. She said if I wanted to she could refer me, and, even though this caused me some anxiety, I decided to go ahead with this.

After only a few days I received a letter saying that Stuart and Julie from the befriending service were coming to visit me at my house to discuss what the befriending service was and whether it would be appropriate for me. On the day they were due to come I was really anxious and at one point considered cancelling the appointment, but within five minutes of meeting Stuart and Julie I was put at ease and made to feel extremely comfortable. Stuart explained to me what the Befriending Service was all about and we discussed the kind of things I would like to do with a befriender. We agreed that Stuart would put me on the list for a befriender, but he warned me that it could be a while before an appropriate befriender became available for me.

Only a few weeks later I received a letter from Stuart telling me they had found a befriender for me and invited me to meet her. I was worried about meeting her in case she didn’t like me, but Stuart stayed with us for a bit and then left us to chat ourselves which I really enjoyed. At that time we made an arrangement to meet in the town for tea and a chat and we just took things from there.

It has now been a year since I met my befriender and the arrangement has finished. During this time we met every week for tea or lunch or the cinema. This has been one of the most uplifting things I have ever done. Just to go out for a cuppa with someone and to relax and just chat about anything and everything has been such an awesome experience. It has given me a whole different perspective about life and has made me appreciate the people in my life better. It has been one of the best experiences of my life and I am so thankful to everyone involved.

Provided November 2014

Tags: Befriending
01/06/2015 at 2:32 pm

Befriending – It’s been wonderful for me

I want to tell you about my journey I’ve had. I joined FDAMH about 2 years ago and wasn’t much of a mixer. In fact I had no confidence, very low self esteem and was paranoid with the world it seemed. Stuart seen this in me and one day we were having one of our chats Stuart suggested a befriender to me. I wasn’t too keen but hey ho in my head nobody really liked me anyway so I knew it wouldn’t work so I agreed to it.

A couple of weeks went by and Stuart came back to me to say he’d met the perfect person for me and would I agree to meet her. Again I thought she won’t like me anyway, so yeah I’ll give it a go. On the day I was to meet Michelle I felt sick. I thought ‘why am I putting myself through this just to set myself up for a fall again?’. Anyway, Stuart came down into the drop in to get me and said Michelle was waiting for me. He said if I really didn’t feel comfortable to just go and get him and that would be that so I said ok. You have no idea of the things that were going through my head, all “what ifs”. Anyway, next thing I knew there I am in the room and being introduced to Michelle who I must add looked just as terrified as I was. We still laugh about that. Stuart settled us down and said he’d pop in and out to check we were ok. We never needed it. Michelle was bouncy, bubbly, friendly, everything I would love to be. But you know I heard myself laughing and meaning it. What a shock. Michelle showed no difference to me than she would any other person. She asked things I would like to do, promised me we would take it slowly and even though it was just our first meeting I was already putting a little trust into this complete stranger. For once someone was actually treating me as me. So on our journey we went.

Don’t get me wrong at the start it was difficult getting to know each others ways but Michelle being Michelle we soon overcame them. One thing she never pushed me into anything if I couldn’t go into a shop she’d say that’s fine lets try another one and on we’d go. I remember one morning I came into the centre and said to Michelle I don’t feel like doing anything I’m crabbit this morning and she said ok and left me alone that morning. That was the great thing about her, she never pried, she just left you. But just after lunch that day she said right get your coat and we’ll go for a walk and I said but I’m crabbit, ah she said, that was in the morning you said, it’s now after lunch so come on. I did laugh that day, what a perfect attitude she has.

What I am trying to say about the befriending service is I could write a book about it. It’s been absolutely wonderful for me, my confidence is tenfold. I mix at the drop in. There’s no such thing as ‘can’t’. This service needs to be kept for many more service users like myself as without it I wouldn’t be this new person ready to take on my next step of my journey and I hope one day with a little more confidence I might even be able to help someone on their way. Thank you Stuart, Michelle and all the team at FDAMH.

Tags: Befriending
01/06/2015 at 2:30 pm