A Look Back At Welcome Buddies Over The Past 5 Months

Welcome Buddies is run by Voluntary Action South West Surrey and is part of the Welcome Project. It aims to help people with mental ill-health move on with their lives through recruiting volunteers to support people to join in with activities in their communities.

The project is run by Denise Graves and David Rose and they have been looking back over the last five months at the changes the enforced isolation and lockdown has caused for the work they have been doing. The changes have been very positive and have enhanced the project.

Initially people wishing to have a volunteer buddy and work on their own personal action plans would meet weekly for a couple of hours with their buddy. Then the lockdown was put in place and it was no longer possible for the clients and buddies to meet face-face.

Instead meetings quickly moved to virtual video calls and regular telephone calls that people enjoyed. Groups would then meet via video call and some pop-up virtual coffee meetings were started.

As the months progressed and the lockdown eased, David and Denise started organising walks with very small groups. This has been a fantastic way for everyone in the project to get to know each other better. Walks have taken place in Guildford, Cranleigh and Bramley and they will continue to organise these weekly as they are proving popular!

Other activities that have been introduced include gardening. For Earth’s Sake, a shop in Cranleigh owned by Vanessa Ford, are offering the team the opportunity to use a bit of their land for growing vegetables and Denise and David are currently working to set this opportunity up, that will hopefully be established by autumn. This will be a good opportunity for clients who simply wish to spend time in a relaxed outdoor setting with a few others.

The team do need garden tools for this venture, anyone who wishes to donate any items please contact Denise on 07825417204 or email d.graves@vasws.org.uk

Finally,this summer two clients of the project have become peer mentors and as Welcome Buddies progresses, they feel more of a complete team with everyone participating.

Groups meeting via video calls and telephone calls are now a regular part of the project. The Buddies are also about to receive some virtual training from Surrey Live about the importance of physical exercise and mental health.

Volunteers are still needed, particularly volunteers to help accompany people outdoors for walks after a long period of shielding. For more information about the project or to sign up, please ring Denise via 07825417204 or email d.graves@vasws.org.uk or contact David Rose, d.rose@vasws.org.uk