Befriending Networks exists to support organisations across the UK and beyond who operate befriending services to people who are socially excluded in some way.
- Provide a high standard of information, training, resources, quality development and consultancy in relation to befriending
- Raise the profile and understanding of befriending and its role within a continuum of social care provision
- Support the delivery of high quality befriending services
- Maintain an effective and supportive network among our membership
Our organisation was established in 1997, in recognition that organisations delivering befriending activities in Scotland could benefit greatly from the creation of a network which would help facilitate the sharing of good practice, and produce befriending-specific resources. Support is provided by Befriending Networks both for small services operating with possibly one or two paid staff members, and also for project coordinators who are part of larger organisations but who are often the only people within their agency working in a befriending service.
We now have more than 200 member organisations across the UK and beyond.
Our members range from huge UK-wide organisations with hundreds of beneficiaries and dozens of separate services, to small befriending organisations operating in a local context. They have in common their deployment of volunteers, who are recruited, trained, carefully matched and supported by befriending coordinators, usually on a one to one basis but increasingly in diverse ways, such as on the telephone or in small groups.
People who are in receipt of befriending services range from vulnerable children to people with disabilities, mental health issues, disaffected young people, people with long term health conditions, those who are socially excluded because of cultural factors (e.g. religion, LGBT), people who are older, those living with dementia or their careers.
Over the years, we have devised a diversity of training, information, networking opportunities and practice resources for our members to support them in the delivery of high quality befriending services. We have developed a range of training opportunities, including a training course for befriending coordinators which is credit-rated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority, and also offer tailored training to services on a range of issues.
We provide regular networking opportunities for members to meet, share practice, exchange information, ideas and learning. We also host an annual conference for coordinators, and try to address emerging social policy themes relevant to the sector.
We have a befriending-specific Quality Award which can be undertaken by services keen to demonstrate that they strive for continuous improvement, and which can also be helpful when they apply for funding, as it indicates to funders that the service is robust and sustainable.
We work to promote the activities of our members and to raise awareness of the benefits of befriending. To this end we now facilitate Befriending Week each November, which is a celebration of the work of befriending services across the UK and a promotional opportunity for members.