Looking to Volunteer?



Befriending Matters

Did you know that befriending is one of the most inclusive forms of volunteering? During lockdown in 2020 it was the most popular kind of informal volunteering that took place across the UK. People connected with neighbours and relative strangers to do their shopping, chat and make sure they were coping.

Many of these relationships have continued which is really heartening to see, and it has made us all so much more aware of the importance of even the smallest interaction with a fellow human being – whether that’s chatting with someone in the supermarket as you pack your shopping or the busy banter you overhear and smile at on a bus – but did you know that as many as two-fifths of all older people say the TV is their main source of company and according to Age UK Half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all.

Loneliness affects people of all ages and backgrounds and we offer our services to any adult across Helensburgh and Lomond. While we do have some younger clients, the majority are elderly.

Research has shown that chronic loneliness can adversely affect our physical and mental health. It increases the risk of heart disease, dementia and depression and most worryingly it can increase our risk of death by 29%!

Loneliness has been a problem in our community long before lockdown and if anything, the problem is worse now than before, especially as so many people have lost confidence about returning to their old routines – so we need your help more than ever!

All of these statistics are pretty thought provoking but research has shown that services like Visiting Friends, providing simple company and friendship can really make a difference – and you could be part of that!

How does our service work?

How can volunteering help me?

Here at Visiting Friends, we know that volunteers are at the heart of what we do and we are always looking for male and female volunteers from all walks of life, aged 18 and over (there’s no upper age limit!).

All our volunteers tell us that they feel like they are ‘making a difference’, which is great if you’re looking to do something worthwhile or feel more connected to your community.

Maybe you’re new to the area or are retired and need a new routine? – our Volunteers also tell us that volunteering as a befriender is a great way to stave off loneliness, meet new friends and feel purposeful.

Volunteering can also make your CV stand out, and if you volunteer with us for at least six months we can potentially provide you with a reference.

– whatever your reason for volunteering, we’d like to hear from you!

What would I be expected to do?

As a Visiting Friend you would visit your friend once a week for a couple of hours in their home or perhaps go out for a coffee – you both decide! As a Talking Friend you would make a regular weekly telephone call to your friend for a chat and a catch up. (Most of our clients are looking for a Visiting Friend)

You can tell us how far within Helensburgh and Lomond you would be willing to travel and choose whether you would perhaps like to take your friend out in your car. (You certainly don’t have to be able to drive as we can often match you with a friend within walking distance of your home.)

Just like our volunteers, our clients are male and female of all ages (over 18) and backgrounds. Most of our clients are elderly and often have health problems that have led to them becoming socially isolated and lonely, however please note that you are not expected to provide any personal or medical care – we leave this to the professionals!

We look for reliable, kind people who can commit regularly to their new friendship – you can tell us what day and time will suit you and we would match you accordingly. Your friend will fully expect that there will be some weeks that for personal, family or work reasons you may not be around for them – this is fine – we just ask that you keep them notified and us too if you can’t visit for a protracted time.

If you are interested in volunteering with us we would arrange to meet with you in person and find out a bit more about your preferences and availability. If you decide to go ahead, we ask you to provide two character references (other than family members) and we carry out a disclosure check as part of the Governments Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme – there is no cost to you for this.

We try to match you as quickly as possible, however, the waiting time depends on your preferences and the suitability of the clients on our waiting list. We will keep in touch with you to keep you updated about our progress, but please be patient –  we want to make the right match for you, not just any match – our experience has shown that careful matching is the key to success!

Befriending is a supported friendship…

We know that friendships take time to build so once matched with your new friend, we ask that you try to give it at least a month before deciding whether it’s going to work out. That being said, you can contact us at any point and tell us if you are having any problems and we keep in touch with you regularly to check in on how things are going.

Our aim is for you to be safe and happy in your role and we provide training and support throughout your time with us. Our induction training is short, held over a morning or afternoon for approximately 3 hours – it is friendly and informal and allows you to meet other volunteers whilst learning some key aspects of befriending.

Once you are matched you are invited to attend our coffee mornings and other events that we hold regularly throughout the year. We can also provide travel expenses to and from visits and our events – please just discuss this with us!