COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Tue 5 May 2020

Befriending Networks has received a significant increase in communications from members and other organisations about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and changing/setting up new services to support people at this time. We recognise that your organisations will be setting up new methods of internal communications (based on home working) as well as making difficult decisions about the future of your service and how to continue to support your communities and meet the growing demand. Here are a few ways to cope:

1) Set aside time to keep up to date with official guidance (which will continue to change):

2) Most of you will by now have made and implemented a plan to provide another form of support (telephone or digital befriending).  If not:

  • Consider what are the risks, how can these be minimised at this time. What additional guidance do your befriendees and befrienders need?
  • Make a contingency plan among your staff team that includes actions to take now and as the situation/guidance changes.  
  • Communicate guidance/protocol that has been agreed upon within your organisation to volunteer befrienders. 
  • Communicate guidance and any changes that have been agreed upon to your befriendees.
  • Post your organisation's guidance on your website or social media.

3) Once you have established support mechanisms for current service users and volunteers, are there extra things they can do to support people on their waiting lists or in their community during this very difficult time? Consider is there a way of...

  • Increasing number of contact calls to befriendees. (i.e. instead of a 2 weekly visit lasting a couple of hours, check in calls twice a week lasting around 30 minutes)
  • Asking already trained and checked volunteers to connect with an additional befriendee, to offer telephone befriending support to as a temporary measure.
  • Co-ordinators offering telephone befriending, where capacity will allow, to waiting list service users and/or to replace any Befrienders unable to make calls due to their own health or caring responsibilities.
  • Befrienders to offer a shopping service to people they support that are isolated at home.

4) Access Befriending Networks' Resources for Support

  • We have continued to produce new Resources to support your organisations during this time (including guides to help transition from face to face to distance befriending and information for volunteers). The latest resources are DBS and PVG guidance and a new resources helping organsations identify possible funding available at this time. These resources are free to all and can be found in the Resources COVID-19 Support area of our website.
  • We will also be hosting Networking Meetings in May to give everyone a chance to come togther with other oragnisations and one of the Befriending Networks team online. Visit the COVID-19 Support area of the Training&Events page for upcoming events.
  • We are delighted today to launch training that organisations can access to use with their Interim Volunteers, further information and registration is at Volunteer Training

Check back to this page regularly and follow us on Twitter @Befriendingnet, as we will strive to continue to update our membership and support others delivering befriending at this time.

The team are all home working and contact details can be found at Contact Us. At present we are busy trying to produce all the resources that we think you need as quickly as possible but please remember we are small team (7 nearly all part time staff) supporting hundreds of organsations across the UK. This means that at times we won't reply as quickly as normal to individual emails or questions, but we will reply given time.

Thank you for all your support and positive feedback on the resources so far and the amazing work you are all doing to support people in your communities.

Stay safe and keep well

Sarah, CEO Befriending Networks

5 May 2020