Case Study: LINK East Fife Mental Health Befriending Project

Fri 3 Nov 2023

LINK East Fife Mental Health Befriending Project provides support for adults and young people who have become isolated, lonely or disengaged due to a mental health issue.

As a Befriending Networks member, their volunteers provide one-to-one emotional, social, and practical support to improve their befriendee’s welfare, personal development, and capacity for self-determination. Their work aims to have a positive impact on the lives of their befriendees, to increase wellbeing and connectedness, and to encourage participation in local communities.

For one of their service users, their experience made them want to pay something back.  

Positive steps

Neil is 49 years old and lives in the Fife town of Cupar. He first experienced episodes of depression and anxiety as a teenager and has suffered from them on and off ever since.

Referred to LINK, Neil was matched with a befriender, who met with him to get him out and about more in the local area.

'I was initially a befriendee and was matched with a befriender who started to take me out into the community in a bid to give me more social contact and reduce my isolation.'

The support Neil received had a positive impact, so much so that he felt it was time the roles were reversed.

'After I had been a befriendee for around two and a half years, had recovered sufficiently, and built up my confidence enough, I then felt I was in a position to move into the realm of being a befriender myself. I was matched with somebody whom I then befriended and used my first-hand experience to encourage the person to take part in activities and try to build their self-confidence.'

A bigger involvement

This was the first step in Neil’s increased connection with LINK.

'I have become more involved with the LINK group and have made it my focus to try to help drive things forward by participation in group and individual activities. In the past 18 months, I have progressed to being selected as a serving committee member, which is giving me a small input into LINK and I can use my skills, knowledge, and experience to help improve the experiences of others.'

Continued benefits

Neil’s journey has taken him from benefitting from befriending in a time of need to becoming a befriender himself and, having experienced both roles, he feels each has had a positive impact on his life.

'I have found my involvement with LINK has helped develop my confidence, skills, and understanding. This has enabled me to drive myself and others forward, whilst giving something back. I take a feeling of satisfaction and enrichment out of this too.'

For more information on LINK East Fife Mental Health Befriending Project, please visit their Directory listing on the Befriending Networks website.