Trent & Dove - #Befriendingis making a difference, one cup of coffee at a time

Wed 2 Nov 2022

During #BefriendingWeek, let's hear what #BefriendingIs from Trent and Dove Housing Association:


Making a difference, one cup of coffee at a time.

Before coronavirus, Britain already had another epidemic: loneliness and social isolation. Rapid changes to the ways we live, work and interact mean that four in ten adults now experience loneliness. While it’s normal, we do not believe it’s inevitable. We decided to take action.

It all started during the first lockdown, with colleagues reaching out to customers identified as being vulnerable. When lockdown meant that it was no longer possible for our team of community volunteers to continue their work, we saw the debilitating effects of this up close. Colleagues nominated themselves for befriending work alongside their jobs. In the first three months they contacted 234 residents and made more than a hundred referrals to other agencies. And the Befriending Service was born.

But it’s not just customers who have benefited, it has also improved our business by putting mental and emotional wellbeing at the front of everyone’s minds, raising our external profile and being a powerful catalyst for other initiatives, such as the Coffee Connect Wagon. What started off as a welfare check and a friendly voice, has now grown into a travelling service, reaching customers across our area. Each week, we take Coffee Connect into a different community to serve free drinks and create a focal point to bring people together. It’s particularly attracting people who live alone and forging new connections between neighbours.

 We’ve seen how once someone’s self-confidence is restored; they often start to engage more fully in their community. One resident whose adult son has a learning disability became very cut off during the early pandemic lockdowns has now joined our Customer Committee to play an active role in improving our services. Another said:

“I’m now going to the local craft group and visiting the Places of Welcome when I feel up to it. It makes me feel more confident, less depressed, and isolated.”

Our befriending service grew out of the exceptional circumstances of COVID and has taken on a new relevance with the cost-of-living, climate change and political/global instability issues that have emerged since. It’s now part of a £500,000 National Lottery bid by Support Staffordshire to grow this kind of support across the county.

 Befriending reflects the DNA of Trent & Dove. It keeps customers’ wellbeing and helping them to sustain their homes at the top of our priorities. From the start, we were clear: befriending is not about ‘fixing’ people or solving their problems, it means offering a friendly face, voice, and presence to reassure and help where we can.

We’re proud of what it’s achieved so far, and excited about where we will take the project next and what this means for our customers. But don’t just take our word for it! In this video you’ll hear from Pam, a lonely customer who though a chance meeting with Paul, a repairs colleague, joined our befriending service. In her own words she’ll tell you about the difference it’s made to them both:


By: Trent and Dove Housing Association

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