Scotland is crying out for volunteer perinatal befrienders – can you help?


To mark maternal mental health awareness week, we are sharing the befriending journeys of some of the mums and families Aberlour has supported through our Perinatal Befriending Support Service.

Currently operating in Forth Valley and East Lothian, we provide a vital community-based service for mums and mums-to-be plus their families by matching them with a volunteer befriender trained to provide practical and emotional support.

The befriending service offers personalised support from conception up until the baby’s first birthday to help develop a positive relationship between mother or father and baby. As well as providing individual support in the family home and community, the volunteer befrienders also help mothers and fathers access support from other relevant services in their communities.

We urgently need more volunteer befrienders!

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We require befrienders from all walks of life, as we carefully match each of our befriendees to someone who will understand what they are going through.

Claire’s Story

Due to the support our mums receive, many choose to go on and become a volunteer befriender themselves. One of those mums is Claire. Here is her story about why she wanted to become a befriender and the support she had to become one:

“A few years ago, after the birth of my own baby boy I was diagnosed with post-natal depression. I was at the end of my tether. I didn’t know if the Aberlour Perinatal Befriending Service would be any good, but I knew there would be no harm in talking to somebody. It absolutely changed my life.

“My befriender was incredibly supportive. When I got to the end of my year programme, I felt so strong and felt so strongly about mental health and getting women to speak out, I knew I needed to come and work with Aberlour as a volunteer befriender.

“To become a befriender, you have to complete 6 weeks of training for a few hours each week. The training covers everything from what depression is, child protection and domestic abuse so you are full prepared for all eventualities.

“Not long after I completed my training, I was matched with my first befriendee and that has been an amazing and rewarding experience. I have learned so much.

“The key part of being a befriender is listening without judgement and reminding your befriendee to look at the positives. It is about asking the right questions to let the befriendee get there themselves so they can have that ‘Oh wow actually I see that from a different point of view now’ moment.

“Angie and Catherine, the Aberlour team, are always there to support you. After each meeting with my befriendee I would send them text updates on how the meeting went and I had regular meetings or calls for me to chat through any concerns I had or extra support I needed to support my befriendee.

“I think that a lot of mums are so scared they are going to lose their children as they don’t feel like they are good enough. They think ‘I am a bad parent, therefore if I say to someone, I am having suicidal thoughts I am going to have my baby taken away.’ And that isn’t necessarily the case. There are people there to support. It takes a lot of strength to step forward and say I need help, I need someone to talk to, I’m not feeling 100%. That is the hardest bit. But once you have said it there is so much support available.

“Aberlour need more befrienders, lots of different people, from all different backgrounds as the team carefully match a befriendee to a befriender. We need to remember that perinatal mental health just doesn’t affect mums, it’s dads too. Aberlour are looking for men and women to come along and train as a befriender to support local families.”

Can you help?

Could you become a volunteer perinatal befriender in Forth Valley or East Lothian?

If you wish to support someone to change their life, to be a non-judgemental, understanding ear for a mum to be, new mum or father we want to hear from you urgently.

Contact our teams today to find out more:

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