Befrienders Highland - #BefriendingIs working towards personal recovery goals with support and encouragement!

Sun 8 May 2022

* Photo of Bill Whyte with his wife, Elizabeth, at HTSI Awards March 2022, where he won the Volunteer of the Year award for his amazing volunteer work with Befrienders Highland


Befrienders Highland is a registered charity with a vision of a world where we all use our natural capacity for friendship to break down barriers which isolate and limit us. Their Mission is to make befriending an indispensable and growing part of health care in the Highlands, supporting and improving mental wellbeing through: 1) providing and developing a range of befriending services, and 2) raising awareness of the power of supported friendships.


The difference Befriending can make

Bill Whyte joined Befrienders Highland in February 2019 after he picked up a leaflet about our service in a local library. After completing his mental health befriender training, Bill was matched with a local lady, who he met up with weekly in a local café or community venue. Through this weekly contact, the lady started to feel more self-confident, more in control of her mental health symptoms, and slowly she worked towards her personal recovery goals with Bill’s support and encouragement.

After about 9 months, the lady asked Bill about training to become a mental health befriender herself, and he discussed this with his coordinator, took along some provided information to one of their meetings, and when she decided to train as a befriender, they moved to an “unsupported friendship”. This lady is now trained and supports someone else through befriending, and was Bill’s guest of honour at his award ceremony earlier in the year. This success story also led Befrienders Highland to look at piloting a Peer Befriending project, which is just starting.

Over his time with us, Bill has had 10 friendships, and is currently supporting 6 friends with their mental health recovery. Some of his friendships involve meeting face to face, and others are through weekly telephone contact. For each of these friends Bill provides consistent support, a cheery voice at the end of the phone, and he tells us “I’ve got a lot of pleasure out of helping a lot of lonely people”. To monitor our friend’s mental health recovery, we do regular reviews with them, using a standardised quality of life score, called INSPIRE. One of Bill’s current friends has increased their INSPIRE score from 25 to 100 in just under 2 years, and another has increased from 30 to 90 in about 18 months, with self-rating score categories ranging from having hopes and dreams for the future, to feeling in control of my life, feeling supported by other people, feeling good about myself, and doing things that are important to me.

If that wasn’t enough, Bill’s experience with Befrienders Highland has also led to him working with a local councillor and a small steering group to secure funding and to set up a weekly lunch club in his local area, which also supports people who are lonely and isolated. In a recent review, we asked one of our friends what we could do to make our services better, and their response was “have more Bills!” We couldn’t agree more.


By Befrienders Highland

If you're inspired and would like to get involved please visit: 

Befrienders Highland