3 things to know before you become a befriending volunteer

Volunteering as a befriender can be a particularly rewarding way to donate your time. Loneliness can have a significant impact on a person’s wellbeing and is often associated with later life. According to Age UK, 3.6 million older people in the UK live alone, 2 million of which are aged over 75.

As a befriender, you can have a direct, positive impact on the life of someone who is socially isolated. Yet, as with any volunteering role, there are a few things to consider before you sign up. Here’s what you need to know before you volunteer.

1. Time

As a befriender, you’ll usually be required to give up around 30 minutes to an hour of your time per week. This tends to involve either paying someone a visit at home, or giving them a call and having a chat.

If you have a little spare time and love a good natter, befriending could be the perfect volunteer role for you. For befrienders who have more spare time and love their role, there may even be opportunities to visit more individuals in your local area.

2. Commitment

One of the key things to consider before becoming a befriender is the level of commitment required. The idea is to build up a longstanding relationship with the person you’ve been paired with, and many charities hope that their befriending volunteers will take up the role for a minimum of a year.

If you’re planning on moving away from your area or can’t be sure of your availability, befriending might not be the volunteering role for you. However, if you can commit to sparing just 30 minutes a week over an extended period of time, befriending can be both enjoyable and a great way to get to know your community better.

3. Training

Before you begin befriending, you may need to undergo training, have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check or an induction. The length of this will probably vary depending on the charity you work with; however, the preparation will help you get a better understanding of what’s expected of you and can make the whole process seem less daunting.

If you’d like to get involved with befriending in your area, there are a number of UK-wide charities that facilitate the service. Charities such as Age UK, Independent Age and The Salvation Army are all great places to start if you’re thinking of getting involved. 

Are you a befriending volunteer in your community? Share your experiences with us on Facebook or Twitter.