Your role as the Telephone Befriender is to engage in conversation with a client over the phone, building a rapport and engaging with them on a weekly basis (note: some befriending matches require more than one call per week). Most of the referrals come from our partners and other agencies but some are self-referrals. All referrals are due to the client being lonely and feeling isolated. It should be noted, that does not necessarily mean they are an older person living on their own. Some referrals are for younger adults who may live in a ‘busy’ household.
As a Befriender your co-ordinator will match you to a suitable client. This will be done after finding out more about both yourself and the client to see if there are similarities in personality, hobbies etc. It will not be done purely on age – often the perfect match is with different generations.
Your role will be to chat to the client, using your own phone from your own home. You will be required to actively engage and encourage conversation – sometimes this needs to be led by you, the volunteer, as there could be barriers with the clients such as: confidence, disability, speech issues etc. The Telephone Befriender will not be expected to offer advice or to ‘counsel’ the client – you are simply someone to have a chat to and be a listening ear – something for the client to look forward to each week. Befrienders should give minimal personal details about themselves and should never ‘off-load’ their own issues to a client. Your coordinator will always be there to deal with any concerns you have about any of your matches.
VASA induction training will be given and guidelines issued around safety protocols for volunteers and clients. Workshops will be available from time to time to cover areas of interest around Befriending.
A PVG check will be carried out prior to commencement as a befriender.
It should be noted that this role does not include any face-to-face befriending and no volunteer should arrange to meet with a client. Post COVID, if a one-to-one, face-to-face service was developed, appropriate training would be given then if deemed applicable.
DUTIES: The role of the Telephone Befriender will be as follows:
• To offer friendship and encouragement, via a telephone call, to a client who is isolated and lonely.
• To provide a listening ear.
• To facilitate conversation and engage with clients.
• To build up a relationship with the befriendee, giving them something to look forward to on a weekly basis.
• To commit to a minimum of 20min per week to the service.