COVID-19 News

Thu 14 May 2020

Befriending Networks would like to thank all of the befriending services and voluntary organisations that have responded so swiftly to the changing circumstances and have continued to support communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As governmental plans of easing lockdown measures begin to take shape, it is vital that your service begin to think about how and when it will adapt to the 'new normal'. For many of you, your clients may well be in the shielding groups, so for them, any easing of restrictions may still be a long way off and you may need to maintain your current provision for this group and being aware of how this change maybe making them feel (left behind, anxious of being forgotten, frustrated). Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Keep informed: The UK Parliament and the devolved governments will have different timescales and rules around easing lockdown and news is likely to change quickly, so ensure you are getting updates from credible sources: Click to visit government guidance from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales.
  2. Reflect & Plan: Take time to consider how your organisation's service users, volunteers and staff will be impacted by easing lockdown and what support they made need during this time. Things will not immediately 'go back to the way they were'. Consider what your organisation has learned during this time and what aspects of this time should be learned from and carried forward - this is a chance to make your organisation stronger & more resilient.
  3. Communicate: The messages in the news can be confusing. It is important to make sure your volunteers are clear about your continuing expectations and to remind them of how you will inform them of any changes if/when they happen.
  4. Reassure: Service users, volunteers and staff will be eager to know what your organisation's plan for the future will be, so ensure your plan is shared transparently with all in a timely manner. Make sure to remind all volunteers, especially interim, ones how important their role is and that they are still needed at this time. 
  5. Understand: Service users, volunteers and staff may have widely different circumstances and feelings about new measures to ease lockdown and therefore may be effected in very different ways. Communications should encourage dialogue so that everyone can feel as comfortable as possible with any changes your service may make. Be understanding and flexible in your organisation's approach so that all parties are supported as much as possible. 
  6. Remain Flexible: The UK Government has stated that easing lockdown measures will be based upon many factors and statistics supporting that this is safe; there is not a guarenteed timescale and it may not be a straight forward path from lockdown to 'normality'. It is therefore prudent for organisations to have contingency plans if lockdown measures are eased at a slower pace than planned or are even reinstated for a certain period of time. Continuing to support your communities in a consistent way throughout this period of change will be a challenge, but is ultimately the goal.

Access Befriending Networks' Resources for Support

  • Befriending Networks has continued to produce new Resources that are free to all to support your organisations during this time.
  • Visit the COVID-19 Support area of the Training&Events page for upcoming free networking events.
  • Any organisation may sign up to receive the Interim Volunteer Training Toolkit to help you train new volunteers for distance befriending.
  • The Befriending Networks team are all home working and contact details can be found at Contact Us. 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.

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. (Last updated 14 May 2020) Thank you again for your continued hard work and dedication.