What is Connections?

The Connections Program is a one-to-one social support and mentoring program for people with a mental illness. This social support and mentoring is provided by screened and appropriately trained volunteers.

The Connections Program follows a strengths-based recovery-oriented model to reduce stigma associated with mental illness, social isolation and to increase positive self-perception. Our aim is to set up safe and supportive structured friendships enabling people who may be isolated to reconnect with their broader community.

The Connections staff work in collaboration with mental health consumers (participants), volunteers, relevant health professionals, and family and/or friends to encourage the participant to reconnect with the community.

Before introducing a volunteer and participant the Connections staff consider the following variables:

  • Locality of each person
  • Compatibility, interests, hobbies
  • Personality types and ages
  • Ability to contribute to a two-way conversation
  • Understanding of/exposure to mental illness
  • Matching preferences expressed by the participant and volunteer

Once a volunteer/participant match has been considered, the Connections Program staff facilitate an introduction meeting. This meeting presents an opportunity for the volunteer and participant to meet, share some information about each other and consider how they can work together to achieve three activities nominated by the participant when joining the Program.

Following the introduction our volunteers and participants collectively organise regular meet-up times/activities, engage in conversations and share many laughs together while in the community.

The ongoing success of the Program is the result of the hard work and commitment of our volunteers. Without their highly valued contribution the great social outcomes achieved through the Program would not be possible.

Participants

Prospective participants are referred to the Program by health professionals, support workers, family, friends, or by self-referring.

To be eligible participants must:

  • Be willing to commit 1-2 hours per fortnight over a 6-12 month period
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 65
  • Be willing to reconnect with the community through participation in social activities
  • Be able to hold a two-way conversation

To make a referral download the Referral and Consent form.

Volunteers

Prospective volunteers often contact Connections staff through the online referral system provided by Volunteering ACT.

To be eligible volunteers must:

  • Be willing to commit 1-2 hours per fortnight over a 6-12 month period
  • Be over the age of 18
  • Have a Working With Vulnerable People Card or be willing to obtain one
  • Be willing to support a participant to reconnect with their community through participation in social activities

Contact us

Contact Connections today to learn more about what the Connections Program can do to support you, or to see how you can contribute as a volunteer.

  • Telephone: (02) 6251 4060
  • Email: connections@vc-act.org.au
  • Postal address: PO Box 128, Civic Square ACT 2608
  • Physical address: Level 2, 202 City Walk, Canberra 2608

This program is proudly funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency.

Testimonials

“The volunteer has been welcoming, friendly and genuinely interested in spending time with me” – Connections participant

“I have enjoyed seeing how much improvement has been achieved and how much more confident the participant has become” – Connections volunteer

“I have felt on an equal level with the volunteer which is something I have not experienced for quite some time” – Connections participant

“Thank you so much for all your help and the opportunities you’ve provided to help me help others” – Connections volunteer