Search here

Befriending and social activities

It has aided my recovery, it has helped my mental health. It’s helped me to get out of the house, meet new people and do different things

Why our befriending scheme matters

Homelessness can be an incredibly lonely and isolating experience. Many people lose contact with loved ones and struggle to stay connected to society. We match people with befrienders who take them out each week to do fun activities around Brighton & Hove and support them to build a social network. Befrienders provide a non-judgemental source of comfort and advice, while our peer support group and social activities provide opportunities to meet new people.

Max’s story

Max is a gender non-conforming person who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. They were a victim of an abusive marriage where their partner controlled all aspects of their life. Max completely lost their social network and the sustained abuse significantly impacted their mental health, resulting in a suicide attempt and a hospital admission. Max became homeless and was placed in emergency accommodation after being discharged from hospital.

Our Social Connection Project Coordinator met with Max to come up with a plan. This resulted in Max being matched with a befriending volunteer with similar interests, personal experience of depression and anxiety, and an understanding of trans and non-binary identities, which was important for Max to feel safe. They met up regularly to go for coffee, walks along the seafront and visiting local places of interest, building a positive and meaningful befriending relationship.

Max has also started to attend our Peer Support Group where they could get housing advice from their peers and talk about mental health with people who have similar experiences. Max’s confidence and self-esteem grew significantly. They established a social network, enrolled in various college courses and got involved with a local sea swimming club, which led to them feeling less lonely and isolated. They navigated the housing pathways independently and advocated for themselves to secure a private rented flat.

Max now helps Justlife’s recruitment processes by sitting on interview panels, shortlisting candidates and choosing interview questions. They are involved with the Common Ambition Project, giving them a voice to change healthcare provision for people experiencing homelessness in Brighton & Hove. They volunteer as a facilitator for Justlife’s Peer Support Group and now have a part-time job with another local housing charity. Best of all Max is now a befriender themselves and said “I hope I can have the same impact on someone else’s life as my befriender has had on mine”.

It has brought some sunshine into my life. I always come away with a smile on my face. It’s connected me to other people