Buddy - a support tool

Published in Tools on 27 Mar 2017

Buddy is an activity based tool that aims to support people accessing services, at the start of their journey. It consists of 24 cards designed to be used by somebody with lived experience of the service (Supporter), and somebody entering the service (Buddy), to help alleviate fears and overcome barriers by sharing experiences and developing plans together.

Buddy a support tool

It promotes celebration of personal achievement as an incentive to continue on the journey.

How do I use Buddy?

Buddy can be used at four key pressure points in the journey of a person accessing support within your service for the first time:

  1. Starting the service and deciding to access support
  2. Attending referrals/appointments
  3. Joining a group setting
  4. Leaving the service

Before using the tool, please consider what a buddy system means in your context, how you can support the interaction, and what safeguards can be put in place to nurture healthy relationships. Consider which of the cards are most useful in your own context and mix and match them accordingly.

Some of the cards may need input from a practitioner, particularly at the start of the journey when Supporters and Buddies are matched up. The tool can be used in both one-to-one and group settings. While activity based, some of the cards are reflective and motivational and look back on the journey to reflect on progress before moving on.


The cards are flexible and can act as prompts for discussion rather than being written exercises.

Playing your part

If you want to be a Supporter, make sure you feel ready to take the responsibility of the role. Supporters should be encouraged to share any concerns about their Buddy’s wellbeing at any point in the process. If you already have a buddy system in place, we hope that this tool can complement existing activity.

Top Tip

We recommend that you use this tool in a quiet space to protect your Buddy’s privacy.


In 2016/17, Iriss worked with the Glen Isla project, a women’s criminal justice centre based in Arbroath, to enhance relational approaches.  One of the outputs from that project was Buddy, if you would like to learn more behind the development we have provided a full account of the process.

Would you like to learn more?
We offer hosted sessions expanding on our tools and their use. Contact services@iriss.org.uk for more information.