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How do I make a referral and what happens?

If you or someone you know is interested in our Befriending Service please email us or call on 020 8432 1416. We will send information on a range of options as well as our befriending referral form.

The person being referred to us needs to have agreed to the referral and be aware of what the service can realistically do. The befriending referral form should them be completed and returned to us if a regular home visit from one of our befriending volunteers is required. A password can be agreed by phone for protecting data within forms to be returned to us by email. Forms can also be posted to the Befriending Manager, at our office. A telephone referral may be possible if we already know the client and have sufficient information and permissions and the referrer can supply the necessary information verbally.

Once we have received a referral form, the client or next of kin will be contacted for an initial discussion about the potential befriendee’s needs and expectations to check they can be met by us. Clients may be signposted or, if agreed, referred to other services such as telephone befriending or activities such as our Music Group. If a home visitor is still required, a home assessment will be arranged. Assessment and waiting time for a match will vary according to your location, needs and our capacity.

Who is eligible for the service?

Potential users need to be aged over 55, feel isolated and live in the borough of Barnet. Priority will be given to those with no alternative sources of regular companionship. Applicants need to be able and willing to form a rewarding relationship with a volunteer and be able to make and keep appointments. Ours is not a respite service or there to replace paid care.

Why is a home visit necessary prior to using the service?

Age UK Barnet has a duty of care to both its volunteers and service users. We have to know the conditions that our volunteers will be working in. Without knowing a bit about a potential befriendee, their needs and interests we will not know which volunteer will be the best for them. The form they are required to sign is to allow us to put your personal details on our database, share them with the volunteer or, if necessary, the emergency services. We do not pass personal details on to anyone else unless we have permission to do so. If a befriendee would be more comfortable with a friend or relative present during this visit or when they first meet a volunteer befriender, they are more than welcome to do so.

Do I pay for this service?

No, the service is free but donations to Age UK Barnet help cover service costs. We ask that befriendees do not offer volunteers gifts or money but do let them know how much their visits are valued.

How are volunteers vetted?

All volunteers are interviewed to assess their suitability and at least two written references are applied for. A Disclosure and Barring Service check is also applied for and training is provided before volunteers are introduced to potential clients.

Meeting your befriending volunteer.

As soon as a suitable volunteer becomes available the befriending service manager will arrange to bring them to meet you. This initial meeting is to see if you are likely to get along and are both clear about what you will be doing together, when and how often.

How long will I have to wait after assessment to meet a volunteer?

We anticipate that the waiting time will be anywhere from two weeks to two years, depending on how many suitable volunteers there are available to introduce you to. The more specific your requirements the longer it may take to find the right person.

Do I have a choice as to who visits me?

We will do our best to find you the right person. However, if something does not feel right after the first visit or later on, let Age UK Barnet know as soon as possible. If it is not right for you it probably won't be for the volunteer, so we will try again to get it right. Do not worry about offending anyone. It’s important to be honest. However, Age UK Barnet does not condone prejudice.

What if I need to change the time of a visit?

You need to let Age UK Barnet know as soon as possible so we can get a message to the volunteer. The best way to do this is to leave a message on the mobile number provided by the befriending service manager. You will not have the volunteers contact details.

What can I ask my befriending volunteer to do?

Although our service is primarily designed to offer companionship there is a wide variety of things you can do together if you both agree and we consider it will not put either of you at risk. Most volunteers have smart phones that can access the internet and can help you identify and find any services you may need or be interested in. Many will be happy to escort you to the shops or the park, be your eyes or ears, post a letter or re-pot a plant and many other mutually agreed tasks.

The volunteers are not there to replace paid helpers or do jobs that require qualifications or could put either of you at risk, such as changing an electric plug. If a volunteer has a disability this may restrict what they are able to do for you. However, in most cases the benefits are not all one way.You might be surprised how grateful your volunteer is to have the chance to practice a new language or share your life experiences.

What information will my volunteer be given about me?

Volunteers are provided with information about your date of birth, any health and disability issues, support networks and your emergency contacts in case: 

  • You become seriously ill or have an accident while the volunteer is with you.
  • They need to provide the emergency services with the information to treat you.
  • They unexpectedly lose contact with you and are concerned, especially if you miss a recently arranged meeting.
  • They need the means to make appropriate enquires to check you are ok and don’t need assistance.

Volunteers will also be given sufficient information about your interests, background and expectations to help facilitate a successful match. They will have signed an agreement to follow Age UK Data Protection Policy, a copy of which can be forwarded to you on request.