Befriending Networks is Awarded Funding from the National Lottery Community Fund

Thu 1 Jul 2021

Befriending Networks is delighted to announce that we have been awarded £200,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund, Reaching Communities funding to continue our vital work, providing advice, training and support to befriending projects in England, for the next five years.

With over 40 years of experience in the sector, Befriending Networks is the only UK organisation to offer specific befriending advice, information, a recognised Quality in Befriending award and befriending-specific training opportunities. These services have become even more important with the increase need for befriending during COVID-19. Due to this increase in befriending as well as Befriending Networks' outreach work, our membership in England has more than doubled in the past year. This funding, which will enable Befriending Networks' small team to support all 200+ members by increasing our capacity to offer support, training and networking events, therefore arrives at a crucial time.

One member who has benefited from the advice and support Befriending Networks has been able to provide during the pandemic is the English National Ballet. Restrictions brought about by COVID-19 meant that English National Ballet (ENB), like many organisations, could no longer run face-to-face classes. For ENB’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme, this meant providing online classes on social media during lockdown, followed by classes being delivered online via Zoom from October 2020. However, as digital classes may not be accessible to everyone for a range of reasons, ENB wanted to provide a service to bridge the gap for those who may be experiencing social isolation and severe loneliness during the pandemic; that’s where the idea of establishing a befriending scheme began! Research into befriending and consideration about what type of service to provide was essential at the start. Befriending Networks resources provided a good foundation for this initial first stage of planning. For example, 'Running a Befriending Service' provided information about the policies and procedures that would be needed, the Volunteer Training Toolkit offered videos and PowerPoint presentations that could be customised to be used alongside wider organisational volunteer training, and participating in training courses gave an opportunity to think ahead about how the service would be run following an initial pilot. Read more about ENB's befriending journey on page 17-18 of the new 'Starting a Befriending Service' publication, available for all to download for free.

Thanks to funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, Befriending Networks will be able to help new befriending projects like ENB increase wellbeing and reduce loneliness as well as support established befriending services to adapt to the ever-changing situation that COVID-19 continues to present. CEO Sarah Van Putten reflects "We are delighted that the National Lottery Community Fund has recognised the importance of our work and we thank the National Lottery players who have enabled us help befriending projects across England make a difference to people at all ages and stages of life who need a listening ear and sense of connection."

The National Lottery Community Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year it awarded over half a billion pounds (£588.2 million) of life-changing funding to communities across the UK and supported over 14,000 projects to turn their great ideas into reality and make a difference in their communities. Thanks to National Lottery players, £36 million is raised each week for good causes throughout the UK.