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Befriending Week 2023

Published on 08 November 2023 04:01 PM

1st to 7th November 2023 is National Befriending Week, an annual event to help combat loneliness and social isolation.

What is Befriending Week?

Befriending Week is an annual event that aims to encourage individuals and organizations to reach out to those who might be feeling lonely or isolated and foster relationships for meaningful connection.

This year’s theme is “Befriending is Support” – highlighting the importance of befriending in combating the effects of loneliness and social isolation.

What are the benefits of Befriending?

The impact of loneliness and social isolation can lead to depression, anxiety, and in some cases even chronic illness. Befriending can act as a buffer against these issues, helping individuals feel supported and more connected.

Friendships provide a support network which helps build resilience during challenging times. The old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” is so true! Befriending can help individuals face life’s challenges with greater ease.

Having friends exposes us to new perspectives, ideas and experiences. Befriending can therefore create opportunities for personal growth and change.

Befriending Services at Age UK Wandsworth

Age UK Wandsworth have been matching isolated older people with volunteer befrienders since 1987 – that’s 35 years! The premise is simple – people over 65, who live alone and have limited social contact can be referred to the service by a friend, neighbour, professional or by self-referring. Our Be-a-Friend Service provides isolated older people with a weekly visit from their befriender, where they will enjoy companionship, a catch up, and (usually!) a cup of tea. Our Befriending Plus Service is an extension of the Be-a-Friend Service, providing clients with life admin as well as companionship.

Antonia and Julijana’s Story

Antonia and her volunteer Julijana have been paired since September 2021. After Antonia's late husband sadly passed away two years ago, Julijana began to visit Antonia for a few hours every week. Currently, Julijana supports Antonia with her shopping, and collecting her prescriptions. They exchange books, and Julijana helps Antonia to use her iPad. She has even brought her mum along to meet Antonia!

Julijana, who started volunteering with us during the pandemic in 2020, brilliantly encapsulates how volunteering can be equally worthwhile to both parties: 

“Seeing Antonia makes me very happy, and it gives me a lot of purpose. It's very fulfilling to be able to help and bring joy to someone by doing ordinary things. I'm very grateful to the Befriending Plus service and Age UK Wandsworth for giving me this opportunity, it has made my life in London much more fulfilled. I will always remember the moment when I helped her make her first ever video call on her iPad to her sister and niece who live far away. After the call she told me 'Thank you for helping me. My heart feels different after seeing their faces again'."

Meanwhile, Antonia says of Julijana: 

“She has helped me so much. I don’t know what I would have done without her company, and she makes me very happy.” 

I would like to befriend an older person in the community - how can I get involved?

Age UK Wandsworth always welcomes applications from new befriending volunteers. If you would like to get involved with Be-a-Friend or Befriending Plus, please click here to see our befriending volunteer page to read more and download the application forms. 

Or if you want to chat a bit more about what the role requires, give us a call Monday-Thursday 10am-3pm on 020 8877 8940 and ask to speak with the Be-a-Friend or Befriending Plus Coordinators. You can also reach the team by emailing

We can’t wait to hear from you!