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Andrew

Andrew

‘It was Spring 2019 that I discovered Health in Mind. I saw an advert in the Big Hearts, and they were advertising the befriending volunteering positions at Health in Mind. I had done befriending before, with children, years and years ago. I like the idea of that, because it was adult mental health, it really interested me.

For me, on a personal level, my daughter had a difficult time when she was a teenager. It made me much more aware. My brother and sister are psychiatric nurses, so I’ve kind of learned through listening to their tales. For me, it was more personal because of my daughter, trying to help her battle through it, come to terms with it. That kind of made me more aware of the real challenges that people have.

It’s not always something that is recognised, and it is something that should be in the open. It has to be treated like anything else, like asthma. It’s another health condition, it can be crippling. It prevents people from doing what they want to do. It is something that happens, happens to anybody. It shouldn’t be stigmatised. Anybody can fall.

I think Health in Mind make people realise that there is support there, there is something to embrace. People are there to help, it’s recognising that it’s a real issue. It’s not judgemental, it’s recognising, visibly, a real issue. They’re here to help, to listen, to support. It’s a great message.
Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s making a difference, and you get some feedback, which I had recently with a guy I’m working with. I just listened, without any judgement, and he was happy I was interested. Sometimes it’s hard to know what impact you’re having. It’s nice, if they want to keep seeing you, it’s nice. You’re there as a friendly face, a trustworthy person. Somebody to listen.

Strength is a sense of belonging, a sense of being. It’s the anchors that you have in your life, which a lot of people don’t have, or which they lose through circumstances. I think it’s that thing, about trying to reconnect with the person. What did you used to like? What were you into? What were your interests? How can you connect to other people, or communities? I think it’s very easy to get isolated with mental health difficulties, to get really withdrawn into yourself is very easy. To me, strength is about, have you got those hooks in your past that you can go back to, and get strength from. I think it’s a collection of all your experiences, not all good ones, bad ones as well, to take strength from how you coped with them. It’s about referencing back to what you’ve known, and what’s in the memory bank.’

£4 a month could support someone like Andrew to help end loneliness in your community, please email fundraising@health-in-mind.org.uk for more information.

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