BACP registered member Theresa Hammond has been inspired by her daughter to set up a befriending service for people with learning difficulties.
She is looking to launch Belive – which stands for Befriending Empowers Lives Improves Mental Health by Valuing Everyone – after she was unable to find a befriending service for her daughter when she experienced isolation and loneliness.
Her daughter has a mild learning disability and was recently diagnosed with autism.
Theresa hopes Belive will help make a difference to the wellbeing of people with mild to moderate learning disabilities in and around Medway in Kent.
“I was living in Wales and my daughter lived in Medway in Kent, which is where I initially lived,” said Theresa.
“She was isolated and lonely, and I think a befriending service would have made a difference, because talking is good for you.
“I couldn’t find a service to support her, so I thought I would set one up myself.
“They can have a one-to-one befriender or a telephone service, or it could be both, depending on the need.”
Theresa, who has moved back to Kent to support her daughter, had a platform at BACP’s recent Making Connections event in Ashford, Kent during which she outlined her plan.
She said the proposal is with the Charity Commission and she already has 13 potential beneficiaries.
“When I did my application for the Charity Commission there was a lot of research about people being lonely – including some in Therapy Today,” she said. “I used it as evidence, because loneliness is an issue.”
Theresa will balance setting up the service with her part-time job of being a counsellor with Health Assured, an employee assistance programme.
“I am really passionate about it,” she said. “Building friendships builds confidence, improves mental health and brings opportunities.
“When you are lonely you get anxious and depressed, that’s what happened to my daughter. I have personal experience of it and I want to use that to help others.”