2020 through a lens...

New Youth Bench Attachment Students

20-29 JULY 2020

Every year the Friendship Bench takes on a group of students who are required to do an industrial attachment before returning to their respective universities for final year of studies.

The students take the lead in the Youth Friendship Bench programme. They get trained in the Friendship Bench approach with added youth focused modules. Once the 8 days training is complete they are ready to deliver the PST intervention as peer counsellors in the community. 

Obviously this year we will be doing it a bit differently, we've taken the Youth Buddies online! Covid-19 has been an encouraging force to take this step and so far online talk therapy has been embrace in the Youth demographic. We look forward to seeing how the latest students work on community mobilisation as they create awareness of positive mental health and the virtual Youth Friendship Bench.

Chitungwiza Stakeholders Gathering For Scale-Up

13 JULY 2020

When we go into a town or village, urban or rural area. it is vital that we meet with Stakeholders before hand. Relationship building and learning to understand what the situation is on the ground is a key element to the success of the Friendship Bench, no two places will ever be the same, we need to listen to the stories from all levels of the community. 

In Chitungwiza we met with the office directors, District Health Promotion Officers, the Matron in charge, the Sisters in charge, the Lay Health WOrkers as well as Friendship Bench beneficiaries. This was a very attentive group of 14 people, eager to motivate their low performing clinics to reach and deliver mental health care to more people in their community. 

Gweru Grandmothers; first face to face training since Covid-19 lockdown!


A group of FB trainers, coordinators and assistants travelled to Gweru to teach 28 Grandmothers about the Friendship Bench Intervention as part of our national scale-up plan. 

We were greeted by blue skies, green grass and eager to learn Lay Health Workers! 

The Problem Solving Therapy was well received, the Grandmothers are full of energy and ready to start mobilising in their community. Role plays went well and we have great confidence in their ability to connect and communicate empathy to clients who seek their support. 

Online Training with the Friendship Bench Grandmothers

JUNE 2020 

Lockdown continues, covid-19 anxiety is high, starvation is consuming the nation, unemployment is widespread, reports of domestic violence stream in and substance misuse is rife. Training our Grandmothers in the online delivery of Problem Solving Therapy has been a high priority of ours in the face of all these problems

Over 5 days we used Whatsapp to teach our Grandmothers how to make the shift from sitting on the bench to being able to use Whatsapp to effectively help their communities. We are so grateful for the open minded Grandmothers who have taken to the online delivery like ducks to water! 

Circle Kubatana Tose 


JUNE 2020 

One thing that COVID19 hasn’t stopped is the Grandmother and clients Circle Kubatana Tose gardens!


Started just before Zimbabwe’s Lockdown they are doing amazing. This new leaf (no pun intended) is our latest behavioural activation & income generation component to the Friendship Bench intervention.



Lockdown Lightened! Which meant we could take a trip to check in on the Grandmothers in Gweru & Chitungwiza


Past 2 weeks have been inspiring and enlightening. Being able to travel meant we could not only deliver masks to our Grandmothers but also start their online WhatsApp training so they can continue to 'see' clients and provide the much needed safe space to talk about their current problems. There are alot of people not knowing how to feed their families, hungry children and bored youths because schools are still shut. Everyone needs someone to talk to, an empathic ear who listens and cares.

Mask distribution and hand washing guides for Grandmothers during covid-19 pandemic.


There is no escaping the pandemic, this past month has involved a lot of adaptation and improvisation. Lockdown in Zimbabwe has been a struggle, with no food stores, rise in domestic violence and continued closure of the informal sector we need mental health care now more than ever. 

Huge thank you to the Old Legs Cycle Tour for donation of masks for the FB Grandmothers, to African Threads for the miles of masks sewn and to The Rafiki Network for coordinating everything. 

CKT Gardens. 

Permaculture Training On the Edge of Lockdown. 

March 2020

Just before the Covid19 Zimbabwe Lockdown was announced we started training our next group of Grandmothers and some Friendship Bench beneficiaries in permaculture.

We had a successful trial at one of the clinics and so are working to carry this behavioural activation and income generation component of the intervention throughout all clinics. 

Watch this space for organic vegetables and drop in SSQ scores! 

Uni Friendship Bench Buddies taking part in the Colour Run

Bindura University

9 March 2020

Our University Friendship Bench Buddies spent their Saturday at Bindura University colour run.


We were invited there to talk about mental health & creating awareness about the free talk therapy FB offers on campus for all students needing a safe space to talk and find belonging.

We want students to know



Piloting a new CKT: Permaculture gardening




20-28 February 2020

Imagine you could grow, pick, eat and sell produce that will nourish, sustain and support you & your family... We want to provide people with the knowledge needed to bring this to life.


With the help of a passionate farmer, gardener, sustainable liver Linda Gabriel (IG page link) we have started to train a group of clients and LHW in the principles of sustainable gardening.


We believe problems can be fixed in gardens. 


Health System Strengthening


17-24 February 2020

FBplus, a collaborative research project between ASSET and ourselves had a busy month with all ASSET projects meeting for their annual meeting in Addis Ababa and then hosting a Theory of Change workshop here in Harare. 

Both produced some gems of information and best practices in going forward into the 2020 year.

find out more about ASSET and our research, funded by NIHR, in partnership with Kings Global Health KCL.


Welcome DRK Nathalie & Katie to FB!

3-7 February 2020

The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation was founded on a belief in the power of innovation and the conviction that with bold support, passionate individuals with great ideas can change the world.


With this in mind we are extremely honoured that they have come to visit the Friendship Bench and met with the Grandmothers at Hatcliff Clinic. There is a lot in the pipe line, watch this space for high impact at scale. 


We're making new friends around the world who are earnest drivers of change for good and this is encouraging. 

Find out more about the

DRK foundation

Refresher Course 

Seke North & South



One of the Friendship Bench values is 'continued learning'. So we have started to visit the Friendship Bench Clinics to carry out refresher courses with all community health workers and to share some findings of what the 2019 RE-AIM evaluation from team Optimise FB brought to light. 

It's great to see the Grandmothers still know their PST steps and they are open to new methods of data collection. It also great that they are sharing their experiences and suggestions of improvements to the system to get it as optimally working for quality mental health care as possible.

Youth Friendship Bench Student Supervision

Topic: SEX


9th JANUARY 2020

Dr. Ruth Verhey is back at it with the Youth Friendship Bench students. Supervision happens twice a month and is a time where the Dr engages the students in all that is taboo, stigmatised, discriminated against and in general would make for awkward conversation for many. Not on our watch, this is the generation of the future and the time for change is now.

For anyone wondering, the red object is a 3D printed clitoris! Find put more here

Follow the YouFB activities on Twitter

Matapi Flats new years greetings.


3rd JANUARY 2020

New decade, same strong resilient women raising their families in Matapi Flats, Mbare. 

With the bit of rain we got in December the Friendship Bench garden was full of green vegetables and egg plants. A great way to start the year was visiting the women of Matapi Flats. 


Majority of them are widows, now too old to work, many look after their grandchildren while their children go out and work or for some they they are now the parents of their grandchildren having lost their own children.

Clinic visits start.



Community building takes time, our plan for 2020 is to spend as much time as possible at clinics supporting the Grandmothers and ensuring they have the resources they need so they can deliver the best possible intervention.


The Grandmothers receive so much community respect because of the work they do, from being true to their beliefs and being non-judgemental to those around them. We don't believe this is rocket science, we believe this can be achieve in all communities with the right ingredients. 

They truly are our core.

​Find us: 

4 Weale Road

Milton Park

Harare, Zimbabwe

The Friendship Bench logo is a


All copy is subject to TERMS & CONDITIONS ©

Friendship Bench Zimbabwe 

2019 Copyright