Can occupational therapy methods support voluntary befrienders to develop meaningful relationships with young people?
This research project was carried out by an occupational therapy student at Queen Mar-garet University, in partnership with the charity organisation People Know How (PKH). PKH run a ‘positive transitions service’ that provides support through befriending to young people in schools within North-East Edinburgh. Occupational therapist are concerned with enabling people to participate in activities that are meaningful and purposeful to them and use activities or occupations as a therapeutic tool. This core concept of occupational therapy is similar to the method adopted by be-frienders in supporting young people. With that said the ‘positive transitions service’ man-ager was interested in whether drawing on key aspects of occupational therapy could con-tribute to the development of meaningful relationships between befrienders and the young people they work with. This interest provided that basis for this research project. With the desired outcome being the development of a training pack influenced by the findings of the research and its links to occupational therapy. The student research carried out 4 semi-structured telephone interviews with befrienders to establish an understanding of their role and the current challenges they face. The find-ing revealed key links between occupational therapy and the skills and techniques cur-rently used by befrienders, supporting the idea that training or input from an occupational therapy perspective could enable befrienders to further develop their skills and support them in developing meaningful relationships with the young people they work with.