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Neshomo Befriender Conference - 25th Feb 2024



Neshomo, the organisation which signposts and supports those facing mental health issues, held its annual conference recently for its volunteers and the rest of their devoted team. Neshomo’s befrienders fill a massive gap in the mental health services in the community, with the care the volunteers bestow on their clients, helping them to rise above their challenges and live productive lives.

Around 60 volunteers and team members joined the conference, held at the Holy Law shul Hall Chaired by Leah Raffles, the Project Manager, the evening was divided into two parts. First on the agenda was an inspiring talk by Rabbi Eisenberg, who spoke about how the Machatzis Hashekel shows us how much each Jew need another one – no one can complete his or her tafkid in life without other people. This, said Rabbi Eisenberg, is exactly the ethos of Neshomo, which matches up befrienders with people in the community who need help, essentially providing for both sides of this special relationship to gain tremendously.

Neshomo’s General Manager, Sherelle Dresner, then used a PowerPoint presentation to show what Neshomo is about, and how it has impacted the community, helping over 100 people in the last year alone.

This was followed by real experience case studies, shared by a volunteer, a client and a support worker, who all showed the tremendous impact Neshomo has in real life.

After a short break, where refreshments were enjoyed, and participants all receiving raffle tickets for valuable prizes which had been donated to Neshomo, the program continued with the volunteers doing an activity, led by the clinical leads. This involved a display containing many random items with each participant picking out a few items and putting them into their own little ‘hope box’. The clinical leads and support workers then worked in groups, asking each person why they had picked those particular items, and then explaining how subconsciously we choose things which reflect our mood. This Hope Box was shown to be a useful tool for befrienders to use with their clients, as they can compile together a box of items which they can then use to lift their mood when feeling down. On the feedback forms, most volunteers mentioned the Hope Box as the best part of the evening, citing how useful the concept is.

Awards were then distributed to various outstanding volunteers, including one person who has been part of the organisation since it started. The awards were distributed by Mr Clive Moss-Barclay, one of Neshomo’s trustees.

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