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VASL Community Champions and Befriending News Posted on Monday, 11 November 2019

VASL Community Champions (CC) and Befriending Networks (BN) have a strong partnership built on regular dialogue and exchange. Both organisations know that befriending is a powerful way of tackling loneliness.

Diane Claridge, BN Development Officer for England, and Rohini, CC  Manager meet regularly to exchange information about national policy developments, local progress and challenges.

Diane says “Since the late 1980’s, BN has provided support, training and guidance to hundreds of befriending projects across the UK. We encourage all befriending services to work to common standards, protecting all parties involved in the projects.  During 2018-2019 we estimated that our members in England have supported 8,500 volunteer befrienders, provided 13,050 people with befrienders over 375,000 hours with an estimated value of £4.8 million.”

Befriending Networks is part of the Loneliness Action Group which is led by the British Red Cross and Co-op partnership and brings together government, charities, businesses and public sector leaders working nationally on loneliness. Together they develop solutions and secure meaningful commitments from decision makers across the UK.

Local MP Neil O’Brien is Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Loneliness at Westminster and has been very supportive of both VASL CC and BN.

Jenny and Sam from the CC team have recently participated in a BN online webinar, Common Ground meetings and Annual Conference sharing their insights with peers and learning from the work of other befriending projects around the UK.  Rohini also attended a Masterclass in Befriending Good Practice in Leicester this year.

In 2012, BN instigated the first National Befriending Week which takes place from 1st to 7thNovember every year.  It is a great opportunity to celebrate the fantastic work that organisations like VASL CC are doing across the UK to tackle loneliness and social isolation.  The photos show CC volunteers who befriend older people across Harborough District through visiting people at home, phoning them or writing by email or letter.

We know this regular social contact makes a positive difference, as these quotes from clients and volunteers show.

“I had a lovely visit to see Mark. Remarkable man. Makes my day so special. Same time next week to visit.”

“Thank you again for enriching this pensioner’s life.”

“Joining Community Champions is the best thing I’ve done since I got here, I’ve had a bad time recently and this has helped so much, thank you.”

“Befriending is magic – a real win-win for all involved.”

Contact Us

If you know of anyone who would like to volunteer to help tackle loneliness or someone who lives alone in Harborough District, is over 60 and would like more company, please ring us on 01858 432262 or email champions@vasl.org.uk

For more information about Befriending Networks go to www.befriending.co.uk or call Diane on 07802 287633