Befriending Networks is the umbrella body for befriending services across the UK and beyond. We provide a range of services, including training, facilitation of networking meetings between services, telephone support, consultancy, resources and publications, and a Quality Standard.
Befriending services provide support to people who are lonely or socially isolated due to a range of factors: older age, looked after children, carers, people with a disability or long term health condition, or those facing cultural exclusion due to other factors. Support is provided by volunteer befrienders who are recruited, trained, matched, deployed and supported by a befriending co-ordinator. Such services tend to be small and locally based, and benefit from belonging to a national network in order to share resources and information, access tailored training, and obtain informal support.
Befriending services within larger national organisations are often run by one individual with sole responsibility for that service, and who therefore benefits from sharing common experiences and challenges with others providing similar services. Befriending Networks sets recommended standards of practice for services, provides guidance to developing and established services alike, and administers the Quality in Befriending Award, which demonstrates to funders, commissioners and other stakeholders that a service is working within agreed good practice guidelines.
Befriending Networks has existed for almost 20 years, and provides economies of scale across 250 member services throughout the UK and beyond. We also undertake to promote the work of befriending services by, for example, the annual Befriending Week initiative, and raise awareness of the role of befriending in the continuum of social care services and its contribution to tackling loneliness. Based in Edinburgh, we have a growing membership south of the border.