Mark and Jenny from b:friend were welcomed to the meeting. Members heard how b:friend is a charity established to reduce social isolation in older people through befriending for those who may have no family close by, or may have mobility issues.
The charity had been working in Doncaster over the past 18 months, but had been operating in the Dearne area more recently. Members heard how the service in the Dearne would include one-to-one support as well as engagement through social clubs, with the latter being arranged around the five ways to wellbeing.
To date 20 individuals had expressed an interest in volunteering to befriend and relevant checks were now being undertaken. Interested parties were asked to complete an online application, which would be followed by a meeting to chat with the prospective volunteer, and to gain any necessary identification to undertake DBS checks.
Referral to the service could be made through social prescribing, from council officers and also by self-referring.
Posters and flyers had been distributed throughout the area, including in GPs, chemists, cafés, and supermarkets. It was hoped that word of mouth would also promote the service.
It was noted that the service was aimed at those aged over 65, and that the service was not qualified to support those with dementia, but if identified would refer relevant individuals on to more specialist services. Often those younger than age 65 expressed an interest in becoming involved in the social clubs and where possible these requests were accommodated, encouraging them to volunteer.
Members acknowledged that the initiative was in its infancy in the area, and Jenny’s role would be to help it become established, helping to run clubs, match volunteers to those wishing to be visited and undertake DBS checks.
Those present heard how links had been made with relevant organisations in the area such as Berneslai Homes and Keepmoat Homes, and the positive partnership working ethos of the team was stressed.
(i) That thanks be given to officers for the presentation given;
(ii) That leaflets be provided to Members to distribute through their networks.