Our befriending service aims to match trained befriending volunteers with local families in need, to provide them with practical and emotional support in the challenges they face.The aim of befriending is to provide families and children in need with the tools to improve their circumstances and lead more fulfilling lives. We aim to foster independence by being there for families so that they do not have to face their challenges alone.
What are some reasons a family might benefit from a befriender?
A befriender may be able to provide practical and emotional support if a family or child is struggling with the following:
- Social isolation
- Housing and money-related worries
- Schoolwork or problems at school
- Communication problems and risk of family breakdown
- General stress – for example, struggling to care for children
What kinds of things can a befriender help with?
A befriender will usually provide supportive home visits to the family each week for a minimum of 6 months.
A befriender can:
- Assist parents to find out about local services
- Provide non-specialist emotional support as an informed friend
- Assist families in the completion of paperwork (e.g. benefits forms) and correspondence
- Assist children with their homework
What can a befriender not help with?
A befriender cannot:
- Take care of children overnight, or provide regular childcare
- Assist with housework
- Share personal details with a family or have informal contact with them ‘off the record’ (e.g. following/friending on social media, sharing a personal phone number or email, or visiting the family informally). This is for the safety of the family and the volunteer
- Provide professional psychological or medical support
Our befrienders are not professionals, but caring people who have time to give to help others. Sometimes, a family or family member will need more specialised help than our volunteers are qualified to offer. In these cases, we can signpost the family to a more appropriate service.
How do you monitor and supervise befrienders?
All of our befriending volunteers will be DBS checked before they are able to begin training or have any contact with service users. On receipt of a satisfactory DBS, as well as satisfactory references, the volunteer can then attend a Family Placement Induction and begin training. DBS checks are redone every two years. We also have strict policies in place which all volunteers are required to sign.
Training and supervision
Befriending volunteers are supervised by the Family Befriending Coordinator (currently Loris Konaizeh). Once placed with a family the Befriender and the Family Befriending Coordinator maintain regular correspondence to ensure the effective delivery of service. After 6 months there will be a review meeting attended by the Family Befriending Coordinator, the family and the Befriender.
Befrienders must always attend monthly supervision sessions with the Family Services Organiser and CEO. They must also complete weekly log sheets and return these to the Family Services Organiser at the earliest opportunity.
All personal information about families is held securely in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1988. Information is shared with the professionals that refer families to us, but no information is shared with any other organisations without the permission of the family.
The safety of families and children is our first priority. If there is a child protection concern, volunteers are legally obligated to report this to social services.
How do I become a befriender?
Please click here for more information about volunteering your time and to see whether we’re currently looking for new befriending volunteers.
We also recruit for office-based volunteering roles, so if you’re looking to gain experience in this area then we’d love to hear from you!