Looking Back on 2020 with Befriending Networks

Fri 18 Dec 2020

Befriending Networks would like to wish our members a safe and happy holiday season. This has been quite a year and from our team to yours, we hope you take time to rest, recharge and reflect. Here are a few of our reflections...

The words 'unprecedented' and 'a year like no other' have been repeated a lot in 2020 and for good reason! We're all aware of the challenges the third sector and befriending organisations large and small have faced and will continue to face, but as it's a season of lights, let's take some time to reflect on the bright spots of 2020.

Light #1: Networking time with you! Befriending Networks has always run regional networking events in person and online multiple times per year, but this year, because of a growing need among voluntary organisation to communicate and get support from other befriending organisations, we introduced Weekly Wednesday Q&A Sessions. The fact that these sessions have continued to be fully booked for the past few months demonstrates that they're providing much needed community and discussion. 

Light #2: Interim Volunteer Training! In response to organisations' need to train new distance befrienders at a distance, Befriending Networks launched its Interim Volunteer Training videos, free to all, back in April. Since then, approximately 470 organisations registered, which have now trained thousands of volunteers.

Light#3: Annual Conference Online! Annual Conferences are highlights in our organisational calendar and we wanted to ensure that the same quality of experience was able to translate into an online format. We were, therefore, delighted to get feedback from attendees like "I really appreciate the conference going ahead online, it has given me a chance to reflect on the past few months of running the Befriending Service since March 2020...Great to hear how other organisations are doing things and have adapted and know I'm not alone in it all!" 

Light#4: Befriending Week Celebrates all that #BefriendingIs! The engagement online for Befriending Week broke records this year and because of high levels of visibility on social media, raised awareness and started a continuing conversation about ways befriending changes lives.

Light #5: Our Membership has Grown! In the autumn, the membership surpassed 300 and continues to expand. A growing membership indicates to us that we are doing work, delivering training, producing resources and raising the profile of befriending in a way that is beneficial to organisations. More members also means more perspectives in networking events and more partnership possibilities for all.

If you'd like to bask in the glow of more lights, visit the Review of the Year page on the website!

Looking back on the year reveals that our organisational aims haven't changed (if anything it has shown that befriending is indeed #NeverMoreNeeded), but it has pushed our team to adapt the way we deliver our aims and there is no doubt that many of the things that were adaptations will become permanent fixtures of Befriending Networks. Perhaps most important of all, we are proud to have been able to support befriending organisations across the UK and beyond during a time of crisis and will continue to be a resource for our members, as things continue to evolve.

Finally, we hope you have a safe and restful season. Our homeworking team will have laptops closed and phones off by 5pm on 22 December and we look forward to greeting you again on 5 January to start another year of befriending with you.