BHA Befriend - #BefriendingIs feeling less isolated

Wed 2 Nov 2022

During #BefriendingWeek, let's hear what #BefriendingIs from BHA Befriend:

BHA BeFriend

In the year that Befriending Networks celebrates its 10th anniversary, so does BHA BeFriend.

There are many reasons to celebrate these milestones but the most important one is that many people have been helped, even had their lives changed, through befriending.

Berwickshire Housing Association started BeFriend with funding from Comic Relief and, subsequently, The National Lottery Community Fund. Very quickly the project grew and ten years later it has around 85 befriendees and 25 befrienders.

This is the story of one of our people.

Janine lived in one of the smaller villages of Berwickshire and when we met her, she was 75 years old and her husband’s carer. Her family tried hard to help alleviate her loneliness with phone calls and monthly visits but they lived in England and worked long hours. Her family contacted BeFriend and asked for help, on her behalf.

When Janine’s husband died, shortly after she joined BeFriend, she became even more isolated.

Janine was a very social person and jumped at the chance to make new friends. She joined in with group events but was also allocated a one-to-one befriender, Elsie. Together, Janine and Elsie explored the garden centres, open gardens, and stately homes of the Scottish Borders. They became friends, sharing their worries and concerns about life but also their joys; new grandchildren being a particular topic of conversation.

Janine often expressed her gratitude for the project, to anyone who would listen. In fact, she once said that BeFriend not only introduced her to new friends and improved her confidence, it changed her life. There were one or two damp eyes when she made that comment!

At group events, Janine was popular with other befriendees because she was so friendly and interested in other people, so she was missed when her health started to deteriorate and she wasn’t able to attend quite as often. Elsie shared her concerns for Janine with staff in BeFriend.

Unfortunately, Janine then had a series of long stays in hospital. Her family spent a lot of time travelling between their homes in the Midlands and the Borders, while Elsie kept in touch by phone (Covid restrictions had begun).

Last year, Janine died peacefully, in hospital. Elsie and BeFriend staff were grateful that they were able to see her again before she passed away. Losing a friend is never easy, especially one like Janine, but we have such fond memories of her and won’t easily forget her.

Befriending made Janine’s last few years easier, less isolated and lonely, while boosting her confidence to stay in her own home, rather than move into a care home. It also gave her family some peace of mind when they lived such a long way away.

Janine’s story is just one of many that have emerged over the last 10 years in befriending; there are many more where differences have been made both large and small but are nonetheless valued by staff, befrienders, and befriendees alike.



Terri Bearhope

Project Co-ordinator



By: BHA Befriend

If you're inspired and would like to get involved please visit:
BeFriend - Berwickshire Housing Association