News News Introducing 'Circle of Friends' Our Glasgow North West (NW) team have been busy bringing people together through a new peer support group: Circle of Friends. Set up earlier in 2019, it aims to bring together individuals who are experiencing loneliness and social isolation through activities and group meetings. Following a successful fundraising cycle round the Isle of Cumbrae – which raised an amazing £2,000 – the Glasgow NW team were spurred on to request fundraised money to do something to combat loneliness in their local area. Murdo, a support practitioner in the team, told us how important it was for him to personally get involved in setting up a local project: “It is very close to home as the majority of the people we support in the service are experiencing isolation and loneliness, and I have seen the negative impact this has on their wellbeing.” The idea quickly became a reality. And group participants soon settled on the name – Circle of Friends – to reflect the bonds that have been formed between them. This year’s schedule has already included sailing on loch Katrine, a day trip to Luss & Tarbet, a visit to the Gurdwara (the largest Sikh temple in Scotland) and the Falkirk Wheel, creative arts and crafts sessions, and even taking part in Reiki classes – to name but a few. Mamosa shared her experience of attending the group: “The group are always there for each other and I feel supported by them, which has had a big knock-on effect. My confidence has grown and I now feel more motivated to clean my house by myself, which I wasn’t before. My CPN was amazed to see how much my house has improved and they are looking into reviewing my medication as a result of the positive changes that have come over me.” Catherine also shared her experience: “The group is great for building confidence and meeting other people struggling with their mental health. There is a commonality between us which provides a strong bond.” As relationships have grown and people have become more comfortable with each other, the group have started ‘skill swapping’. This involves sharing knowledge, skills and experiences which facilitates learning and helps further strengthen connections between people. It is fantastic to see people feeling able to open up like this with each other; and is tangible evidence of the success and impact of Circle of Friends. Murdo added: “The Peer group has been so successful that we have now extended the original 14-week programme until March 2020.We aim, beyond this point, to provide the attendees with the right tools and support to continue the running of the group themselves.” We look forward to hearing more stories and progress from Circle of Friends in 2020. If you would like to support projects and activities like these that are addressing isolation and loneliness across Scotland, you can donate here today. Thank you!