Befriending services, support and opportunities

What is befriending?

Everyone needs other people, but not everyone has someone. For people who become isolated because of ill health, disability or social disadvantage, being matched with a befriender often fills a big gap.Befriending offers supportive, reliable relationships through volunteer befrienders to people who would otherwise be socially isolated. Around the UK there are befriending projects which organise effective support for children and young people, families, people with mental ill-health, people with learning disabilities and older people, amongst many others.
The results of befriending can be very significant. Befriending often provides people with a new direction in life, opens up a range of activities and leads to increased self-esteem and self-confidence. Befriending can also reduce the burden on other services which people may use inappropriately as they seek social contact.

Support in your home

Below are some of the befriending services and options across Bromley.

Age UK Bromley&Greenwich Community Helpers

This free service is provided by trained and vetted community helper volunteers. It is for older people who might feel lonely and socially isolated. Home visiting - weekly 1:1 visit from a community helper for chatting, maybe games, maybe a cuppa!

Telephone befriending - join a Telefriend Circle of people with similar interests or have 1:1 phone calls with a companion from the community helper team

Out and about - an activity companion will encourage and motivate people to get back out and about in the community for social activities, shopping or outings - whatever's preferred until the person feels confident to do it on their own. 

Biggin Hill Community Care Association

Home visiting service for regular social visits are made by a volunteer for a chat and perhaps a cup of tea. The volunteer can also help the person they are visiting to be aware of other activities or services that may be of benefit to them. 

Careplus

A registered charity which provides free volunteer support to older people in the borough of Bromley. This can be through shopping, befriending, transport to local places, gardening, basic DIY, and other practical help. 

Dementia Befriending Service, Bromley

The befriending service matches volunteers with clients who have a diagnosis of dementia and are registered with the Bromley Dementia Support Hub. It is a free service, borough-wide. They have no age restrictions or specific opening hours. Typically volunteers visit the clients for a couple of hours a week to offer companionship, encouragement and support. Activities, where possible, include shopping trips, a walk in the park etc. Training and support is offered to volunteers on an ongoing basis. 

Mindful Mums Befriending in Bromley, Orpington

Mindful Mums Befriending in Bromley provides pregnant women and new mums with regular, practical, social and listening support on a one-to-one basis. 

What you can do from your own home?

By telephone

  • Age UK: Call in Time - Call in Time   -  a free telephone befriending service for matching volunteers with older people for up to 30 minutes per week.
  • Independent Age - would you like to receive regular phone calls or visits from a friendly, dedicated volunteer? It's an opportunity to talk about things that interest you, or just have a catch-up and a chat.
  • Macular Society -  a telephone befriending service may be especially helpful if you cannot get to one of the Macular Society support group meetings but would like to talk to someone who has experience of macular disease.
  • RNIB Telephone Book Clubs - share your passion for books and reading by taking part in the RNIB Telephone Book Clubs. 
  • The Silver Line  - operates the only confidential, free helpline for older people across the UK that's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

On the internet

  • Gransnet forums - Gransnet is the busiest social networking site for the over 50s.
  • Gransnet forums: Grandads' shed - Grandads' shed is a space for men over 50.
  • Meetup - Meetup is an online social networking website/mobile app that facilitates offline group meetings.
  • Mumsnet - Mumsnet is a website for parents in the UK. It hosts discussion forums where users share advice and information on parenting and many other topics.
  • Mush - A local social network of mums, so that you find other mums nearby, know what's going on, know where to go and organise Meetups.
  • Nextdoor - Nextdoor is the free private social network for your neighbourhood community.

Help to get out of the house and take part in social activities

  • CarePlus - provide a free local volunteer support service for older people including trips to medical appointments.
  • Contact the Elderly - for small groups of older people, aged 75 and over, who live alone, they can be collected from their home by a volunteer driver.
  • Dial-a-ride -  Transport for London's free door-to-door service for those with permanent or long-term disabilities.
  • Driving Miss Daisy - live life to the full with Driving Miss Daisy's safe, friendly, and reliable community companion and driving service. 
  • Royal Voluntary Service - Bromley Good Neighbours and Transport Service help support people in retirement to live independently in their own homes, including transport, befriending and a home library service.

Useful resources

  • Befriending Networks - is the UK's leading resource on befriending. Their members enjoy access to the latest research, training and advice to help them provide continuously high quality service.
  • Campaign to End Loneliness -  a network of national, regional and local organisations and people working together through community action, good practice, research and policy.
  • Salvation Army: Good neighbours & befriending - reaching out to serve lonely, isolated, struggling members of the local community. The Salvation Army churches offer a range of schemes to help older people who may need support in their area.
  • Scope: Befriending - Scope offer befriending and peer to peer services that connect parents and carers for short-term emotional and practical support.
  • U3A (University of the Third Age) - a UK movement of retired and semi-retired people who come together to continue their educational, social and creative interests in a friendly and informal environment.