Social interaction for challenging times

LGBTQI+ befriending service launched

Credit: Wise Thoughts

Last year proved challenging for all of us, and our service users at Wise Thoughts were no exception, especially as many are also from Black, Asian and other diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Covid-19 has meant many people in Tottenham are being cut off from their usual support groups, friends and chosen family. Many are in living conditions, which are deeply impacting their mental and physical wellbeing.

To help combat this we launched our WISEfriends befriending service. Wise Thoughts has been working with the LGBTQI+ community in Haringey since 1999, running arts and engagement programmes.

We want to create fun, new opportunities for social interaction to help build self-confidence through meeting new people and feeling more part of the community.

To do this we started by offering telephone befriending, and we hope to be able to organise in-person events this year. The service, which started in November 2020, is run by our in-house Befriending Service Coordinator, Cesar Teixeira, and is supported through funding from the National Lottery Communities Fund via the London Community Response Fund.

We are unique among befriending services because we match those who sign up, with LGBTQI+ volunteers.

We believe it is important to create a safe space, and all our volunteers receive training from us to be able to support those who use the service.

Our volunteers find that befriending also helps them, allowing them to give back to the community, meet new people and gain new skills.

This service is open to LGBTQI+ people aged 16+ living, working, studying or socialising in the borough, who have found themselves feeling lonely or socially isolated.

If this sounds like something you might enjoy, we are currently recruiting volunteers too.

For more information, referral forms and the volunteer application pack: visit wisethoughts.org/wisefriends

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