National Befriending Week

National Befriending Week 1st – 7th November 2018

Today marks the start of National Befriending Week 2018 ( a yearly event specifically designed to highlight the not insignificant contribution to society made by Befriending programmes all over the UK!)

The training process was surprisingly extensive and a very positive experience. It allowed us to explore a wide variety of areas around good befriending practice and also a safe place to explore some of my own questions around befriending. The befriending service contributes massively to the general well-being and quality of life of individuals living with epilepsy. I’m not sure it would even be possible to run an epilepsy specific befriending programme without the level of ongoing personal and professional support provided to befrienders by Epilepsy Connections, such is the wide range of issues that present around epilepsy. (Our regular support and supervision session’s allow us to explore in more detail any issues and how we feel about every aspect of our role).

I meet with my befriendee once a fortnight, (which is standard practice for befrienders at Epilepsy Connections). On a personal level I certainly feel a sense of satisfaction, I am fulfilled and happy to witness my befriendees progress. Positive changes have happened quicker than expected.

It also has proved to be a really positive impact on my own life.

I am delighted to be involved with this vital project and proud to help identify, explore and support strength and resilience based techniques within our befriending service, at both individual and community levels.

I am focusing on developing my strengths further and connecting with organisations regarding opportunities, primarily associated with epilepsy.

I am passionate and have a real enthusiasm to supporting individuals with making independent decisions about how they live. It is important to keep the person at the centre of all decisions and distinguishing what issues are important to the person and essential to consider successful supportive outcomes.

The meet up days fluctuate depending when is appropriate and more convenient for us both, we converse and structure a day and time that’s appropriate for us, (usually a week ahead of meet ups). We negotiate the week before regarding what my befriendee would potentially want to get involved with on our next visit. This enables me to clearly establish where and how far we could be travelling to and from the venue and to organise further support and assistance if required. Preparation is key, I take that duty of care really seriously. I appreciate that everyone accessing the befriending programme is vulnerable and that it takes time to establish trust and build strong positive relationships. It is a gentle nurturing process, not without challenges at times!

Our befriendship is very positive and happy, and we have encountered similar and different views, opinions and pastimes about each other throughout our befriending relationship. My befriendee has had an amazing and inspiring life, having previously lived in a small island of Scotland, working for an organisation that provided confidential advice regarding individuals facing a crisis. He currently lives in Glasgow and is employed with one of the United Kingdom’s biggest retail giants, he has and continues to face challenges related to his own epilepsy and his learning disability, but by being matched as his befriender I hope to show him that neither of these should limit his opportunities in lif

Steven Connelly

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