Family Support Buddy Program



Please note:


The pilot period for this program is now over and funding has not yet been secured to offer it in BC at this time. The complete program and evaluation materials are shared below for use by organizations who have the resources to offer this program. A sample budget for the program is included in the Program Coordinators Guide below.

“The best thing was] the acknowledgement that family members can give and receive help from other family members – We have something valuable to share.”

“Enjoy monthly meetings with other Buddies”

“This is a great program that can benefit a lot of people with or without mental illness.”

About the ProgramWoman talking on telephone

“I have never been as satisfied with a service provided by an agency as I have been with the Buddy Program. In the beginning I used to joke and call it my “Rent a Friend” service but I quickly changed my attitude! Thank you for matching me with a wonderful friend.”

“It is flexible, it is families helping families in a non medical forum. I believe it helps both buddy and the match”

“It gives me great satisfaction and pleasure to be a volunteer for the buddy program. Able to help in some small way is even better.”

The Family Peer Support Buddy program was developed in 2005 and piloted in three locations in BC in early 2006. The program matches volunteers with persons who are family members of persons with a serious and persistent mental illness. The volunteers, who are also family members of a person with a mental illness, provide peer listening and some information during a weekly phone call or visit. Talking to someone who has been through what you are going to can be a big help, and can help a person feel hopeful and figure out how to look after themselves as well as care for their ill family member or friend. Volunteers are not counselors, but they share the experience of supporting a person with a mental illness and can empathize with the feelings and concerns involved. They may offer useful information about programs and services that are available to help.

“I have provided an ear to listen to and my experience with the mental health system. I have given encouragement and gained a friend.”

The program focuses on making the volunteer experience a rewarding and useful one for volunteers, as well as providing useful help to the buddies volunteers are matched with. Each ‘match’ lasts for up to 8 contacts.  The pilot testing went very well and the program materials are offered here to organizations who would like to offer this service in their region. The program is not intended to replace support groups, but to provide support to people who prefer to speak one-on-one with someone about their situation or are unable to attend a support group.

Please contact the provincial office ( 1.888.888.0029 ) to find out if this program is offered in your region.

The resources are offered below to assist organizations or branches who might like to offer this program. Permission is granted to use and reproduce these materials for non-profit purposes, provided you acknowledge their source.

Program Resources

For Coordinator

NEW: Support for Developing this program in your region: Contact to find out about this project to help existing and new programs maintain and evaluate their buddy program.

Family Support Buddy Coord Guide The Guide is designed to be a ‘program in a box’ complete with all the policy documents, forms, admin procedures, promotional posters, training overheads and materials. (pdf format: Family Support Buddy Coordinator’s Guide – PDF )

Emailable evaluation form for participants This form can be emailed to participants, who can fill it out and return the results via email, for more convenience and to save postage costs.

Program Logic Model This visual diagram shows how each part of the program fit together and which portions were connected to which short and long term benefits. Logic models help justify the program to funders.

For Buddy Volunteers and Potential Volunteers

If you are interested in volunteering for this program in your area, please call the provincial office for more information at: 604.270.7841 (Toll Free: 1.888.888.0029)

Buddy Forms This set for forms contains all the intake forms and information for the program from the perspective of the buddy volunteer and is designed to be put on a website for download or emailed to interested persons. Generally they get filled out before or at the training session or during the intake interview, They are also included in the buddy coordinator’s guide.

Buddy Guide (PDF Version) The Buddy Guide is designed to be printed in either black and white or colour and given to volunteer buddies to provide them with useful information and reinforce the messages of the training. Provided in Word and pdf

For Matches / Clients of the Program

If you are interested in talking to a family member volunteer please call the provincial office for more information or to find out if the buddy program is offered in your area of BC at: 604.270.7841 (Toll Free: 1.888.888.0029)

Match Forms This set for forms contains all the intake forms and information for the program from the perspective of the ‘match’ or person delivering service, and is designed to be put on a website for download or emailed to interested persons. They are also included within the buddy coordinator’s guide.

Results of the Pilot and Assessment

Initial results of the pilot were presented at the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Association of BC Conference in June 2006. Evaluations from clients and buddies reported a high level of satisfaction with the program and it’s flexibility. The majority of volunteers who participated were satisfied with their experience and would continue to volunteer with the program. A large portion of persons who received help from a buddy would also consider volunteering with the program at some point. A more detailed report of program results is available upon request.

“There are so many positive aspects of the buddy program that they are too numerous to list. This program should be everywhere! I think the best part is that the client has the option of a new buddy if they are not comfortable with their current match (versatility).

Funding for program development and the pilot was provided by the Provincial Health Services Authority and completed in partnership with BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information