Voluntary MENTORING AND BEFRIENDING is a mutually beneficial, purposeful relationship in which an individual gives his or her time to help another make changes in their life.

Sometimes some of us need help to get by. We all know what it’s like to feel left out. Loneliness is a lingering concern for isolated people, especially in later life. Not everyone has a family or friends they can turn to for guidance and advice.

Mentoring and befriending can make a real difference for people who are struggling with the modern world’s many adversities. It covers a range of affirmative activities in which one person, who is not family or a close friend, gives support and encouragement to another. It can be conducted on one-to-one or group bases; in community, statutory and business settings.

Skills and Training Network (STN) focus on four main areas of mentoring and befriending: Learner18

  • Tutorial: re-enter education, find employment, develop a career,
  • Changing behaviour: improve relationships, reduce unwanted behaviour, help integrate into the community
  • Expanding opportunities: develop personal skills, build confidence, establish life goals
  • Support: build trust, encourage resilience, reduce isolation

Our volunteers come from the local community and offer a variety of support actions to:

  • Socially isolated people and those with health problems who might need encouragment to re-engage with their communities
  • Unemployed people wanting to build self-confidence and develop new skills to help them find work
  • Disadvantaged young people who may lack positive role models
  • Pensioners
  • Refugees
  • Ethnic minorities looking for information about life in the UK

Mentoring and befriending relationships are mutually beneficial with both service users and volunteers amply rewarded personally and socially – obtaining new skills, making friends and having stimulating experiences while making a real contribution to their communities.

STN mentoring and befriending programs can be formal or informal – although to make a real difference mentors must be thoroughly trained, well supervised and fully informed of the legal, ethical and professional protocols.


STN mentoring and befriending meetings are informal yet highly informative discussions essential to building a positive productive team ethic. Share your knowledge and learn from the experiences of others.

Our common ground meetings allow befriending staff and committee members to meet others involved in local befriending projects, to discuss and explore topical issues around befriending and contribute to good practice in befriending at a national level.


Befriending is a service beneficial to people who are socially excluded in some way. These range from vulnerable children to people with disabilities or mental health issues, disaffected young people, people with long term health conditions, those who are socially excluded because of cultural factors (e.g. religion, language barrier), people who are older, those living with dementia and their carers.

  • Half of all UK citizens aged 75 and over live alone.
  • 1 in 10, more than a million, people aged over 65 say they often feel lonely.
  • Half of our pensioners consider the television their main form of company.

As we get older friends and relatives move on, loved ones pass away, our health can suffer and mobility problems make it hard to get out and about, stay in touch with people or form new friendships. This isolation inhibits communication, making it difficult to tell others that you are feeling lonely.

STN provide regular networking opportunities for our service users to meet; share experiences; exchange information, ideas and research. We also host an annual conference for coordinators, when we try to address emerging social policy themes relevant to the sector.

We also offer a specialist befriending project aimed at women from Middle Eastern communities who are settling in the UK but find themselves marginalised and unable to identify with their new environment. Some have few visitors and feel detached from society; this can create various psychological issues which may lead to depression with its many negative repercussions.

All STN befrienders and mentors are volunteers and freely give their time to help others. If you would like to contribute to our cause by making a donation, please go to our contacts page for the relevant information.