Handshake3Context of the Befriending Role

Our service users who receive our volunteer befriending service will normally already be receiving professional counselling from Break the Silence, and perhaps other mainstream health and social services. This means that our separate volunteer befriending service can help to address things such as social isolation and lack of self-confidence, which our service users may experience.

About the Role

Our ‘Time to Listen’ befrienders play a key role in providing some of the support our service users need.

Tea1Whether it is meeting for a chat and a cuppa in a local cafe, going for walks, nipping in to an art exhibition, or going to a sports event, such as football or cycling, just a little of their time makes a big difference to someone else.

Essentially, the befriending role provides an opportunity for a survivor to share time with someone who is patient and non-judgemental. Although a key part of the role is being a good listener, befriending is a two way relationship.

Many of our service users have experienced social isolation, and have low self-esteem, so having someone to meet up with now and again is a great way for them to start getting out more and for building up their self-confidence.

With the help of our volunteer befrienders, we hope that our survivors will be able to take advantage of new social connections and opportunities.

Our befrienders meet up with the person they are befriending in a mutually agreed, neutral, place such as a café or a community resource.

We take special care to match our volunteers and service users, and we take into consideration preferences about age, preference for a male or female volunteer/service user, and geographic location.


The initial training is designed so that you can decide if this is the right volunteering role for you.

The training will cover the key areas about working with vulnerable people, such as the context of the befriending role; duty of care; dignity; choice; listening; confidentiality; support available to volunteers; and also how to receive a disclosure.

It is worth remembering that a survivor will not normally choose to speak to you about what happened to them in their childhood (this will already have occurred with a professional counsellor). Nevertheless, we will provide high quality training about how to deal with a disclosure of sexual abuse, in the unlikely event that this does arise.

On-going training will be provided where possible, depending on personal need, and to support volunteers in their personal development.

Frequency & Commitment

Ideally you would be able to meet up with someone you befriend once every week or two weeks. However, our service users have differing preferences, so once every three weeks or every month may be suitable too.

An initial, regular, commitment would be needed so that there is some stability and confidence building. We are thoughtful about the matching process, and take into account location, preferred frequency, interests, personality and background.

The befriending will take place in a neutral location, such as a cafe or a community resource.

Expected Outcomes

Service users will:

• be able to develop, and gain access to, new social connections and activities;
• increase their self-confidence and improve their self-esteem; and
• feel less isolated.

Befrienders will:

• have a positive volunteering experience;
• be supported in their role and self-development; and
• play an active role in developing and improving our befriending service.

Skills & Experience

Good listening skills are needed for this role, and the ability to be open minded and empathic about others’ situations. Full training and support will be provided to help you develop as a befriender.

Travel Details

The befriending will take place at a neutral venue such as a cafe or community resource, in the East Ayrshire or North Ayrshire council areas. We aim to match up befrienders and service users who live reasonably near to each other, to reduce travelling.

Volunteering Expenses

Travel expenses to and from your volunteering meet ups (including car mileage), and for drinks and snacks in a cafe, for example, will be paid.

Minimum Age

Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age.

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