Friends in Need is a social network for adults experiencing or in recovery from depression and/or anxiety.  It was set up to lift people out of the terrible isolation and loneliness these difficulties bring.  There are 8 Friends in Need services across the country which are hosted by Mind and hundreds of informal ones online.

The Croydon service is delivered by one coordinator - Mind employee Sarah Strong – via funding from Croydon IAPT.  This serves as a great partnership offering Friends in Need access to clinical expertise via the therapists who deliver CBT-based talking therapy and counselling via SLaM primary care services (based at the Bethlem Royal Hospital site in Beckenham).

Friends in Need is available for those accessing primary care services psychological therapies services via Croydon IAPT who experience low mood, anxiety and or depression.  The service is not suitable for those experiencing serious mental illness as it is designed for those are at a point in their recovery where they might contribute to the group and have the potential to offer peer support. FiN is service is primarily peer-led and facilitated by the Coordinator.

Throughout the week Friends in Need members meet each other throughout the Croydon area (in café’s, parks Fairfield House, and other venues) encouraging one another and focusing their attention towards various activities evidence-based

Activities include:

* Crafts (jewellery-making, mosaic-making and card-making)
* Poetry reading, writing, sharing
* Guided walks (always with a coffee stop)
* Keep-fit
* Cinema
* Trips out of Croydon
* Guest speakers and talks on specialist uplifting
* Lots of coffee and chat

The Coordinator runs 2-3 group welcome meetings a month so newly referred people can hear about the service once they have been referred through Mind in Croydon or Friends in Need.

Members are encouraged to register with the ‘Friends in Need’ website where they can connect to others experiencing depression around the country as well as locally.  Some Croydon activities are uploaded to the Friends in Need Croydon section so members can click to ‘attend’ an activity or start a conversation about it.  Members of course then meet up offline as well as having the option of 24 hour connections online.

Some members have been with us for a number of years and now act as session facilitators, running activities on a regular basis.  Some attend every few months, some attend numerous times throughout the week.  The Coordinator does not attend every session but are in regular contact with the members and pop in throughout the week staying longer when accompanying a new member.

It’s a great service and helps so many to find strength, build confidence, make friends, find volunteering opportunities and jobs and give back to the network and the wider community.  

If you access Mind in Croydon services and think that you might be able to contribute to the Friends in Need service please have a word with one of the Mind staff who will be able to refer you.

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