EPUT was formed in 2017 following the merger of North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (NEP) and South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT).

EPUT provides many community health, mental health and learning disability services across Luton and Bedfordshire, Essex and Suffolk.

The EPUT Buddy Scheme is a learning opportunity for students in any discipline to learn from lived or living experience of mental health.

The scheme…

  • Seeks to empower both service users and carers and our future healthcare workers by increasing understanding of mental health through true partnership-based work and education.
  • Gives students an opportunity to engage with an identified service user who acts as a ‘Buddy’ in a series of structured meetings.
  • Gives students an opportunity to learn from carers, gaining insight into their experience.
  • Encourages students to enquire with sensitivity and respect about service user and carer experiences of living with mental illness within the context of family, work and the wider community.

Find out more about the scheme from EPUT here

The EPUT Buddy Scheme offers students a unique insight into mental health, encouraging empathy and compassion whilst allowing them to develop key skills, helping to ensure that the education of our future practitioners is underpinned by the experience of patients and carers, and ultimately improving services.

EPUT are looking for people that:

  • Have lived or living experience of using, or caring / cared for a relative, friend or family member that have used, or are using, mental health services.
  • Have a genuine interest and willingness to support their students and apprentices in their education.
  • Are able to share their lived or living experiences (both good and bad) without it being detrimental to their wellbeing.
  • Are able to share their lived or living experiences (both good and bad) in a positive way to enable their students and apprentices to learn and apply good practise.
  • Are able to sign up as a volunteer as part of joining the scheme which you can do with EPUT here
  • Are able to join online meetings held on Microsoft Teams as the scheme is currently held online (support with this can be provided).


Expected commitment from participants:

The EPUT Buddy Scheme is currently delivered online via Microsoft Teams on week days between 9am – 5pm. Volunteer availability is agreed in advance and this would normally only be for half a day (AM or PM).

There is no expectation of how much time volunteers will give to the scheme and there is never any pressure to take part.

EPUT will meet with all potential new volunteers to discuss any needs or additional support they may need to take part in the scheme.  They will join a larger team of volunteers who can also provide informal peer support.

Volunteers are able to borrow an iPad, to allow them to join the online meetings as part of the EPUT Lending Library, if they do not have access to suitable IT equipment or Wi-Fi.

Volunteers only take part in the scheme when they are able and out of pocket expenses are reimbursed if the scheme is held face to face.

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