Celebration, recognition and connection for the befriending sector
1 Nov 2023
Today marks the start of Befriending Week, a seven-day national campaign offering the opportunity for celebration, recognition, and connection for the befriending sector. Angus MacLean, Quality Officer at Befriending Networks, which co-ordinates the campaign, explains how befriending organisations are providing invaluable support to children and young people across Scotland.
Befriending Networks provides support, resources and training to 53 member organisations across Scotland with a focus on children and young people, as well as a larger network of nearly 400 befriending services across the UK. Befriending offers supportive, reliable relationships through volunteers, and provides invaluable support for children and young people, helping to reduce social isolation and loneliness and facilitate positive social connections across communities.
Our recently published Befriending Statistics Report (click here to read the report) estimates that in the past year, 2,268 volunteer befrienders provided 115,884 hours of support to children and young people across Scotland. This supported 7,245 children and young people to reach their potential and contributed an estimated total of £1,877,313 to the economy, supporting 7,245 children and young people to reach their potential.
We run quarterly free network meetings, providing a platform for members to share best practice, support each other and receive national and local policy updates. As well as facilitating these network opportunities, we also publish a monthly Children and Young People Newsletter (click here to sign up to the newsletter), highlighting good practice, sector news, and funding and campaigning opportunities. This helps our members and supporters to stay up to date with the latest from across the sector.
Staff and volunteers can benefit from the wide range of training opportunities and toolkits delivered by Befriending Networks and we also offer the only award in the UK specifically tailored to befriending services. The Quality in Befriending Award (click here to find out more) promotes good practice in the sector and is valued by referrers, commissioners, befrienders and funders.
We are proud to provide a voice for befriending across platforms such as Cross-Party groups and the Children in Scotland Voices Forum. We gather and analyse the feedback we receive through surveys, meetings and events and use this to deliver an up-to-date account of the successes and challenges faced by organisations operating across the befriending sector. In doing so, it is our aim to influence policy and increase funding and recognition for befriending services.
From today, we begin a national campaign raising awareness and celebrating befriending. Befriending Week is a chance for organisations, volunteers, service users and funders to share their successes, raise awareness of their challenges, and increase funding and volunteer recruitment. This year’s Befriending Week theme is Befriending is Support.
Click here to find out more about how to get involved with Befriending Week 2023: www.befriending.co.uk/resources/befriending-week