Changing people’s lives for the better

PEOPLE whose lives have been turned around by a Clevedon mental health charity are encouraging others to find out about its life-changing work.

Friend in Clevedon provides support and guidance to those aged 16-65 suffering a huge range of difficulties from stress and anxiety all the way through to psychotic experiences or schizophrenia.

The charity has a base in Old Street to provide a place where people do not feel judged or isolated.

Centre worker Becci McCready said: “A lot of people do not sometimes see feeling down as mental health.

“The main aim of Friend is mental well-being. Making sure people are less isolated.”

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Friend set up in Clevedon in 2002 and just more than a year ago doubled the size of its facility. This now boasts a dedicated therapy and massage room, a room for art, craft, literacy and creative writing classes as well as a lounge for socialising during drop-in sessions.

A weekly trip to Strode Leisure Centre encourages members to stay fit, regular Eco Days are held at Brockley Combe and members also help tend the charity’s allotment.

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Friend is run by a group of staff plus member volunteers, such as 57-year-old Caroline from Clevedon, who has been volunteering for eight years after she was helped with depression and anxiety.

She said: “It is essential there is a place like this. At the moment there is not enough help for people because of funding.

“I think many people would be a lot worse off if there wasn’t a place like this to come to.”

Friend aims to support people back into work and runs courses on health and nutrition, life skills and personal boundaries.

An advocacy service provides workers who ensure people with mental health issues are able to make clear their needs and views on their care. A counselling service is also offered.

Day trips and lunches also help to improve the confidence of many people, including 44-year-old Daniel from Clevedon, who has suffered from anxiety, depression and agoraphobia, which leaves him feeling panicked among crowds and not confident to walk the streets.

He said: “Friend has given me confidence and a place to go.

“My world could be so small but it makes it that much bigger coming here. Friend has changed my life.”

Friend in Clevedon is open for its drop-in on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

* For more details about the charity visit

Case study:

ADAM Taylor has been attending Friend since October 2010 when he was referred to the charity by health workers.

The 43-year-old from Yatton had been suffering from anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder, which can see people battle with unstable emotions.

Since going to Friend he has taken part in courses and regularly attends the activities and drop-in put on by the organisation. He has also recently become a volunteer.

Adam said: “I was very withdrawn and within myself.

“I found when coming to Friend I can just be who I want to be and don’t have to pretend everything is fine.

“It gave me a purpose for getting up in the morning knowing I have Friend to come to.

“In the past year it has been an absolute godsend.

“Being asked to become a volunteer has been the cherry on top of the cake – I can now put something back in rather than just taking.

“Friend is here, especially if you are feeling depressed or feeling low. You don’t have to talk about your problems but being with like-minded people can help lift you.”

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