Skip to main content

Our new Befriending Worker gives us an update on the Leeds Mind Befriending service.

Hello there, my name is Christopher Beal. I have joined Anna Ridley in the Befriending team, to bring back the popular service to the people of Leeds.  

I wanted to introduce myself, and give you an update about the progress we have been making in our service.  

An update on the service:

Some amazing work has been happening since our last update.   

We have been busy recruiting volunteers to support the service. We have been out in the community spreading the word and recruiting a diverse volunteer base. This has gone very well, and we are at capacity for the number of volunteers we are able to support!  

We have been working with other organisations to ensure that our befriending offering is available where the people of Leeds need it most.   

Internally, we have been looking at our previous befriending offerings, and ensuring our ways of working continue the elements that were strengths, and address any challenges they faced, this will ensure the new Befriending offering is the best it can possibly be.  

Over the recent weeks, I have started to see clients in the community, and it is an amazing feeling to be supporting the people of Leeds once again. 

Now that the Befriending Service has started in earnest, I am regularly seeing 7 clients (soon to be 8!). My clients are really engaging with the service, and we have had some great outcomes because of our client’s efforts.

For instance, my client Kitty had not left the house in 6 months prior to accessing the befriending service. This is something they wanted to achieve throughout their support.

Since then, we have been outside together multiple times, going to the shops, getting out in the sun, and most recently going for fish and chips, which she said was “amazing!” and “Something I’ve not done in years”.

My other clients have equally engaged with the service, we have gone for walks, played mini golf, had coffee, as well as looking holistically at the support needs of our clients, ensuring that outside of the companionship that befriending offers, we use our resourcefulness to inform and empower clients.

An example of this is once again with Kitty. They have wanted to re-connect with people they have not seen for 20+ years but did not feel confident using technology. I supported them to set up a Facebook profile and they managed to find and connect with someone they thought they had “lost 20 years ago”. 

It is an amazing feeling to be supporting the people of Leeds once again. 

A little about me:

I have worked in mental health roles for the last three years, including residential care, other Befriending services, and practicing as a counsellor.  

Prior to this, I worked in corporate enterprise. I always had an interest in supporting people from a mental health perspective, so I led mental health initiatives in those businesses. 

I am no stranger to mental ill health myself. I can relate to many people who use our service and understand the challenges that loneliness and isolation can bring. 

Through my experience of working in the field of mental health and using my own lived experience to support others, it is clear to me that whatever your background or profession, mental ill health, loneliness, and isolation can impact us all.

It brings me great pride to be a part of our Befriending Service, and our mission to do our part in addressing loneliness and isolation throughout our city.  

People are excited to see the return of our befriending service. Here’s a peek at what people have been saying: 


“I’m looking forward to giving back to my community”  

“I want to help someone to not feel alone”  

“This is a proud moment in my recovery”  


“Befriending has been really great, it has given me someone to talk to who I ordinarily wouldn’t. It’s also given my wife opportunity to do things alone and not worry about me being alone.” 

“You provide a brilliant service, and are such lovely people, it’s making all the difference.” 

“I was feeling overwhelmed, but these sessions really help to make me feel calmer. I can just talk to you and you are interested in what I have to say.” 

We are currently accepting a limited number of referrals. So if you would like to make a referral, would like some promotional flyers from us, or have any questions about our befriending service, please email and we would be happy to support in any way we can.   

We are also looking for a Punjabi-speaking volunteer. See our recent social media post for more.