Befriending services making connections

Primary interest
Volunteering

Ready friends postcards v2 copy 3The Ready Friends project at RVA and Age UK Reading hosted a lively and productive Befriending forum in June. Coordinators, managers and volunteers from a range of local befriending schemes met to share ideas about the future of befriending in Reading. The broad-ranging discussion covered a number of challenges such as sustaining funding, securing funding without taking time away from service delivery and finding ways of collaborating and centralising funds.

Attendees heard from a range of speakers on current funding opportunities, including Rachel Spencer from RVA, Kate Sawdy from Big Lottery, and Alistair Dowlman, the External Funding Officer at Reading Borough Council. Charities and voluntary and community organisations working primarily for the benefit of residents in the borough of Reading can sign up for the monthly funding digest which Alistair produces.

As well as discussing challenges, the forum identified lots of opportunities for befriending schemes, including capturing positive stories from befrienders and befriendees to build up a much needed evidence base for the impact of befriending, offering flexible volunteering opportunities and using new technologies such as Skype to benefit people who are lonely and socially isolated.

The next Befriending Forum will take now take place on Wednesday 7 September 2016, from 2-4pm* on the third floor of Reading Central Library. Based on feedback from the forum in June, this forum will explore:

  • ways of collaborative working
  • outcomes and impact for volunteers
  • peer befriending.

You can book your free place via Eventbrite. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch at ready.friends@rva.org.uk with queries, suggested additions to the Ready Friends web pages, and case studies or good news stories about befrienders and befriendees.

*Please note new date and time