Case Study: b:friend

Sun 5 Nov 2023

b:friend’s vision is to reduce isolation for people who are over 65, live on their own, and do not have a diagnosis that requires specialist support, such as dementia.

The Befriending Networks member pairs volunteer befrienders with socially isolated older neighbours to spend time chatting, listening, and supporting people who may otherwise have no one.

A quick friendship

Jean and her befriender Harley were matched and introduced by b:friend in 2019. Harley started visiting Jean for a weekly chat, forming a firm friendship straight away.

Having recently lost her husband, and with her family not living locally, Jean was feeling very lonely and sad. But the introduction of Harley into her life changed that.

They became close friends, and when Harley had her first baby a few months after they met, she would take her to see Jean - an extra special highlight! When Harley was pregnant with her second child, Jean helped to choose his name.

Harley values her connection with Jean and loves that she can involve her children in their friendship. The pair were even filmed by local news outlet BBC Countryfile Winter Diaries, discussing their befriending journey.

Staying connected

Jean said she would have found the COVID lockdowns very difficult, but Harley kept her feeling connected, making sure she had enough food in the fridge, and chatting to her on the phone. As soon as the lockdowns were lifted, they both enjoyed a trip to the coast.

'I absolutely love her to bits; you couldn’t have picked anyone better for me,' says Jean. 'Do you know, if I’d have had a daughter, I’d have wanted someone just like Harley.'

b:friend’s ‘Buck-It’ project, funded by Temasek, allows the charity to give the experience of a lifetime to ten older neighbours. Jean recently enjoyed a special week away in Whitby with Harley. She not only got to go to the coast but spent the night in a posh hotel, where she enjoyed an afternoon tea on arrival, followed by a spa treatment.

'It was the girls’ trip I always wanted to have, and I loved sharing it with Harley.'

Become a befriender

If you’d like more information about b:friend or want to become a volunteer befriender with them, please visit the b:friend profile page on the Befriending Networks Directory for more information.