Friendship Scheme Volunteers’ Page
Becoming a Volunteer Befriender
To volunteer for the Friendship Scheme you don’t have to have any qualifications or be an expert, you just need to be friendly, reliable and sensitive to the needs of others. Volunteering can give you excellent experience and allow you to develop as a person. It can strengthen your CV and could be of great value in any future employment.
If you are inspired to become part of the Friendship Scheme, the next step is to contact the Scheme Co-ordinator and arrange to meet – if you haven’t done this already. You will need to fill in the application form as fully as possible. The application form asks you to give the names and contact details of two people who we can contact for a reference. This is really important, as you will be working with vulnerable people. It is for this reason that we also do a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) police check. The results of all references and checks are treated as strictly confidential.
After you have met the Co-ordinator, if you both decide the Scheme is right for you, you will be asked to attend training sessions. These are very flexible and timed to suit you.
The Scheme Co-ordinator will introduce friends to each other and will continue to be at meetings with you both until you both feel happy and comfortable meeting on your own. The length of time this takes will be different for each friendship. Although this sounds like it might be a long process, our aim is that you meet with a friend and are able to go out on your own with them as soon as possible.
It is really important that matches are made carefully to make sure that everyone has a happy and positive experience of the Friendship Scheme.
Benefits for volunteers include:
- Training and support
- Out of pocket expenses
- Matched to someone locally
- Creditable experience enhancing future work prospects
What our volunteer Befrienders say:
(Sue and Sarah)
“Sarah and I have been friends for over a year now. It sounds like a long time, but really it’s flown by! We usually see each other once a fortnight – sometimes it’s more often, sometimes it’s less. We do all sorts of things together – it depends on how we feel at the time. Sometimes we just go for cups of tea at a local café, which is fun. Other times we go for walks in the park. If we’re feeling flush we might go shopping – but that’s not very often! We’d both like to go dancing at a night club, but we haven’t got round to that yet!
Now that I feel like I know Sarah so well, it feels strange to think about the time we first met. I think we both felt pretty nervous at that first meeting – well, I know I did anyway! Even after doing the preparation course, I still felt apprehensive. Would I know what to say? What would my partner be like? Would we have things in common? Would we be able to understand each other? Would we get on? I was glad the Co-ordinator was with us the first few times.”
(Simon and Paul)
“When Simon and I first met we soon discovered that we both share a passion for music. I play in a band and sometimes Simon comes along to our rehearsals to see how we’re getting on, and get previews of our new songs! We often go to the pub together as a group to watch other bands play, or chat and have a laugh.
It took quite a while for me to get to know Simon – he doesn’t use speech, so that made communicating difficult in the beginning. Now that we know each other, we can both make ourselves understood without too much hassle – well, most of the time!
I’m really glad that I’m part of the Friendship Scheme. I probably would never have met Simon if it hadn’t been for the Scheme. We’ve really had some good times together and I’ve learned how to communicate much more clearly too. I’ve met some other really interesting people who are also part of the Scheme, which is great because we can support each other by sharing experiences and information.”