James's picture has been changed to protect their identity.
I’m James, 41 and I live in emergency accommodation in Hove. I have high-functioning autism, depression, anxiety and binge-eating disorder.
I’ve recently been matched with the amazing Clem and already feel very lucky to have her in my life.
To me having Clem as my befriender means having an empathetic, listening ear, who can use her own experiences to make suggestions on how to improve my situation.
We have meaningful conversations that I would be too anxious to have in a group situation, which helps me to offload some of my troubles, better understand the neurotypical world, improve my social skills and realise when I need to be kinder to myself.
Meeting Clem each week gets me out of my challenging accommodation situation and pushes me to get outside when depression doesn’t want me to. Also, for one hour a week I don’t obsess about food.
I’ve asked Clem to find me opportunities to move more and try activities and go places that I’d be reluctant to do and go to by myself.
The fact that Clem is not paid means she genuinely wants to be there, but her actions show me this anyway and already feel like I can trust her, which is rare for me.