Case Study: Interest Link Borders

Thu 2 Nov 2023

Aileen Marie has been with Interest Link for 12 years. The 26-year-old has a learning disability and lives with her Mum, Dad, and brother in a small town in the Scottish Borders.

Interest Link Borders provides one-to-one and group befriending services for children aged eight and over, young people and adults with learning disabilities, and children and young people with autism. Founded in 1990 and a Befriending Network member, they have four branches covering Roxburgh, Tweeddale, Central Borders, and Berwickshire, with 270 service users and 200 volunteers.

Making new friends

Aileen Marie was previously part of the children and youth groups run by Interest Link Borders and went on the recent residential trip to iFly in Manchester.

After transferring to the adult service, Aileen Marie began attending the fortnightly crafting group, where she quickly formed strong bonds with the crafting crew. Attendees of the group come from across demographics, with a range of ages and characters making sure that there is plenty of chatter when they get together, as well as plenty of support and reassurance for anyone who needs it.

Aileen Marie also currently has an employment placement at a local catering and gardening project run by a support agency.

Wider benefits

After her Mum suffered recent ill health, Aileen Marie became one of her carers, helping with daily life and providing emotional support. The opportunity to attend Interest Link Borders groups and events, such as Friendship Day, provides much-needed respite for both. It’s a time when Aileen Marie can have fun and get a break, while her Mum can relax knowing that, not only is she safe, but she is also spending time with others.

'Without you, Aileen Marie would not have the confidence to do the things she does in the group. I know she is safe and happy. She has made a solid bunch of friends, and it gets her out and about – she gets so much from her time with the groups.'

Get involved

Interest Link Borders is looking for people of all ages, from all walks of life, and from anywhere across the Borders to volunteer as a befriender. You’ll be making an impact on the quality of life of over 270 socially isolated children, young people and adults with learning disabilities who use the service.

You don’t need any special skills or experience, just the ability to offer a few hours a fortnight to meet with your befriendee.

For more information, please visit the Interest Link Borders page on our Directory.