‘When people understand you, you feel like you are being heard’

Saeed had had his own mental ill health and found out about VITAL Befriending through attending a moving forward group at MIND. He was interested in the training that came with the service and was looking to develop his skills in his road back to employment, whilst making the difference to the life of another.

Befriender Volunteer Coordinator, Jack Smith took Saeed through the process of becoming a befriender, supported him through the 7 week training course and following a ‘match’ attended the first meeting with befriendee Terry.

When Terry had a serious breakdown, he found himself in a dark place – he would catastrophize everything. He became isolated and suicidal, frustrated by his past.

Having been through his own illness, Saeed saw the impact his support had on Terry. The ease in talking to a person who had been through something similar took away the pressure and had enormous benefits. ‘When people understand you, you feel like you are being heard’ said Saeed of his experience. Through befriending Saeed found employment and is now a valuable member of the VITAL team.

For Terry the impact of Befriending has been life changing. ‘Saeed came to visit me weekly, I found his visits benefited me because I had someone to talk to’. Terry found he could relate to Saeed and they would talk about their mental health concerns. From not being able to leave the house, Terry slowly began doing more - visiting the Supermarket with Saeed, going for a walk and then a café. Terry now gets out to support groups and is now doing amazing work as a volunteer. 

VITAL are a user led organisation, meaning that everybody working here has had their own experience of mental health or cared for somebody who has. As Saeed's story demonstrates, this element of the service is VITAL. It allows for empathy that may not be seen in other organisations. 

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