Befriending offers healthy support in Midlothian

LtoR Barry Smythe, Jonathan Kent & Lisa Hodkinson
LtoR Barry Smythe, Jonathan Kent & Lisa Hodkinson

Scottish charity Health in Mind is looking to recruit volunteers in Midlothian for a special service that can change people’s lives.

The service is re:discover Midlothian and it supports people with mental health issues who are at the stage in their recovery where they are looking to move forward in life and, with a little support, are ready to work towards specific goals.

Support and development worker Lisa Hodkinson has seen the difference the project makes to people’s lives and how volunteer befrienders are essential to helping people achieve their goals.

She said: “We are looking to recruit volunteers of all ages, but, as there is a shortage of male volunteers, we desperately need men to come forward.

“I think sometimes when people think of befriending they think of chatting over a cuppa, but it is so much more than that. People who use our service work towards goals which can include almost anything such as joining a gym, joining a cycling club, going to a gig for the first time in years, using public transport, picking up old hobbies or discovering new ones.

“This type of volunteer work is perfect for someone who wants to contribute positively to their community, is perhaps looking for a career change, has recently retired or simply wants to do something worthwhile.”

After training, a volunteer is matched with a service member who has similar interests and they meet once a week for about two hours. Matches last for six months, but can be extended for up to a year if specific goals need a bit more time and support to achieve.

Volunteers have told Lisa how their role with Health in Mind has enabled them to try new things.

Lisa said: “Last year, 100 per cent of people who used the re:discover Midlothian service told Health in Mind that their self-esteem had improved, 94 per cent felt their life skills had improved, 87 per cent felt they were more employed and had more sense of purpose and direction and 81 per cent felt their social network had increased.”

If you are interested in volunteering, contact Lisa by email at lisahodkinson@health-in-mind.org.uk or phone 07760 753020.