Stand Together Network

Mentoring & Befriending Programs: A Response to Loneliness in the UK

In the United Kingdom, the reality of loneliness among the elderly is striking. Statistics reveal that half of the UK citizens aged 75 and above live in solitude. This concern deepens with the understanding that over a million individuals aged 65 and over often experience feelings of loneliness. For many of these seniors, the television serves as their primary source of companionship. 

In response to this pressing issue, voluntary Mentoring and Befriending programs have emerged as a beacon of hope. These programs foster a purposeful and mutually beneficial relationship. Here, individuals volunteer their time and effort to support others in making significant life changes. Such initiatives not only combat the isolation felt by many older adults but also enrich the lives of the volunteers, creating a ripple effect of positive change within the community. 

Stand Together Network (STN): Fostering Connections through Mentoring & Befriending

Become a befriender or a mentor

Join Us as a Befriender or Mentor: Lend a Helping Hand 

Are you looking to make a meaningful difference in someone’s life? Do you have an hour a week to dedicate to someone who may be feeling lonely, isolated, or in need of guidance to change their life path? 

Stand Together Network (STN) is actively seeking compassionate individuals to join our team as volunteer befrienders. As a befriender, your role would be to spend quality time with someone who is experiencing loneliness or isolation. We ask our volunteers to commit to spending two hours per week with their service user for at least one year, though the relationship often continues beyond this initial period. We strive to match our volunteers and service users based on mutual interests and preferences, ensuring a fulfilling experience for both. 

Who Should Become a Befriender? 

Ideally, our befrienders are individuals pursuing a career in mental health care or those with experience in working with people with mental health issues. However, anyone with a compassionate heart and the desire to help is welcome. Our befriending service offers personalised companionship to people with dementia or their carers. This could involve spending time in their homes or accompanying them on outings and activities within the community. 

Can you spare an hour a week to help someone who is lonely or isolated or to help change a life?

Opportunities to Make a Difference

As part of our program, volunteers can provide a variety of supports, including: 

  • Encouraging Personal Interests: Assist individuals in continuing their hobbies and personal interests.
  • Facilitating Social and Leisure Activities: Help people participate in social events and leisure activities, enriching their social lives.
  • Assisting with Daily Tasks: Offer support with regular activities like shopping, adding ease to daily routines.
  • Providing Companionship: Engage in general companionship, fostering a sense of belonging and connection. 

Are You a Good Fit? If you enjoy chatting and are compassionate, patient, and a good listener, you could be a perfect fit for our program. You’ll not only help people feel valued and included in their community but also gain from the experience. 

  • Training and Skill Development: All volunteers receive training and have the opportunity to learn new skills, adding value to their personal and professional growth.
  • Supporting Newcomers: Particularly for refugees and asylum seekers, you can play a crucial role in helping them practice English and make new friends, easing their transition into a new community. 

Make a referral

We proudly offer a variety of courses and services at no cost. Whether you are an individual or an organisation, we warmly welcome your referrals. If you are considering making a referral, including self-referrals, please know that we are eager to hear from you. Your engagement in this process is greatly valued and plays a significant role in the success of our programs.

Join Our Mission: STN Community Programs

At Stand Together Network (STN), our community programs are designed with a clear purpose: to help individuals feel more connected, confident, and independent. The heart of our success lies in the dedication of our volunteers, who are crucial in helping us achieve these goals. 

Get Involved

If you’re interested in learning more about our programs, wish to contribute your time as a volunteer, or know someone who could benefit from the support we offer, we warmly encourage you to reach out to us. Your involvement could be the key to making a significant difference in someone’s life. 

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Championing Change Through Mentoring & Befriending

At the core of our society, there exists a need for change—a recognition that, at times, we all need a helping hand. The sense of being left out or isolated is a reality for many, especially in later life. Loneliness is more than just a fleeting feeling; it’s a persistent struggle for those without family or friends to lean on for guidance. 

The Power of Mentoring & Befriending

Mentoring and befriending stand as beacons of hope amidst the challenges of the modern world. These practices involve supportive and encouraging relationships, where the mentor or befriender is neither family nor a close friend. Whether one-on-one or in groups, these connections can thrive across various settings—community, statutory, and business. 

These relationships are a two-way street, offering mutual benefits. Service users and volunteers alike gain personal and social rewards—acquiring new skills, forming friendships, and engaging in stimulating experiences, all while contributing meaningfully to their communities. 

STN's Approach: Building Effective Relationships

STN’s mentoring and befriending programs span from formal to informal setups. However, to truly make an impact, mentors must be well-trained, effectively supervised, and fully versed in legal, ethical, and professional protocols. 

Our meetings at STN strike a balance between being informal and highly informative. These sessions are pivotal in nurturing a positive and productive team ethos, where sharing knowledge and learning from others’ experiences is encouraged. 

Uniting Through Common Ground Meetings

Common ground meetings are a unique opportunity. They allow our befriending staff and committee members to connect with others involved in local projects. These gatherings are crucial for discussing and exploring current issues in befriending, contributing to national-level best practices. 

Addressing the Challenges of Aging

As we age, the landscape of our lives alters—friends and relatives move away, loved ones pass, and health or mobility issues can hinder our ability to socialize and forge new friendships. This isolation can stifle communication, making it challenging to express feelings of loneliness. 

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Our Focus Areas

STN is dedicated to nurturing positive change through mentoring and befriending, concentrating on four key areas: 

  • Tutorial: Supporting re-entry into education, aiding in employment searches, and career development.
  • Expanding Opportunities: Developing personal skills, building confidence, and establishing life goals.
  • Changing Behaviour: Improving relationships, reducing unwanted behaviours, and aiding community integration.
  • Support: Building trust, encouraging resilience, and reducing isolation.
  • Specialized Befriending Projects: We offer a unique befriending project for women from BAMER communities and new immigrants. This initiative supports those who feel marginalized and struggle to connect with their new environment in the UK.

Our Services

Call in Time Telephone Befriending: Our befrienders provide regular phone conversations at scheduled times. 

Face-to-Face Befriending: This service includes home visits for social interaction, like having tea or going on outings, and assistance with occasional medical appointments. 

Tailored Matching and Support: Participants are matched with mentors or befrienders based on gender, language, ethnicity, and personal needs. Our peer mentors act as a helping hand, offering support, encouragement, and information. They are well-versed in various skills, including ICT, English, basic skills, and employability skills, adhering to STN’s service policies. 

Unique Peer Mentoring Programs: Each mentoring program is uniquely tailored to the trainee’s needs. Our mentors are knowledgeable about STN’s rules and procedures, ensuring they can provide accurate guidance or refer trainees to appropriate authorities for specific concerns.  

Volunteer Contributions: All our mentors and befrienders are volunteers, generously dedicating their time to assist others. To support our cause, donations can be made through our contacts page. 

Networking and Knowledge Sharing: STN organises regular networking events for service users to share experiences and exchange information. We also host an annual conference for coordinators to discuss emerging social policy themes relevant to the sector. 

Special Focus on Marginalised Women: We also run a befriending project specifically for women from diverse backgrounds, newly settled in the UK. This project addresses the isolation that can lead to psychological issues and depression, aiming to reconnect these women with society. 

Peer Mentoring Services: Guided Support for Personal Growth

Structured Programs for Diverse Needs: Peer mentoring services at Stand Together Network (STN) are meticulously structured, following planned programs with a specific schedule of meetings and activities. This systematic approach ensures that each participant receives targeted support that aligns with their unique needs. 

Tailored Participant Matching: We prioritise a personalized approach in matching participants. Our mentors and mentees are paired based on gender, language, ethnicity, and the specific personal issues they aim to address. Through this careful matching, each mentor serves not just as a guide, but also as a sounding board and referral service, offering a blend of support, encouragement, and information.

Skill Development Focus: Our mentors are well-equipped with the knowledge of STN’s service policies and are adept at supporting mentees in areas such as ICT, English language, basic skills, employability skills, among others. This diverse skill set allows mentors to cater to a wide range of developmental needs. 

Unique Approach for Each Program: Every Peer Mentoring program is uniquely designed to meet the specific requirements of the trainee. Our mentors are thoroughly familiar with STN’s rules and procedures. In situations where they face uncertainties, they are adept at directing mentees to appropriate authorities for proper guidance.

Combating Loneliness and Isolation: Our ultimate aim is to address the challenges posed by modern life, particularly for those who feel isolated as they age. We understand that aging can lead to the loss of friends and relatives, health issues, and mobility problems, making it difficult to maintain social connections and form new friendships. Such isolation can hinder communication and amplify feelings of loneliness. Through our peer mentoring services, we strive to bridge these gaps and foster meaningful connections, offering support in navigating the complexities of modern life. 

The STN peer mentoring service can help with:

  • ESOL courses 
  • Computer and Digital Skills 
  • English and Maths 
  • Employability Skills 
  • Confidence building 
  • Health issues and 1:1 Support session 
  • Housing benefit/ income support/ tax credit 
  • Managing finance. 
  • Using the local community facilities i.e library 
  • Available Government services 
  • Civil right 

The Impact of Befriending Services on Social Inclusion

Befriending services play a crucial role in bridging the gap for those who find themselves on the margins of society. These services extend a supportive hand to a wide spectrum of individuals facing social exclusion for various reasons. 

These groups include vulnerable children, individuals grappling with disabilities or mental health challenges, and disaffected youth. They also encompass those dealing with long-term health conditions and people who feel isolated due to cultural factors such as differing religious beliefs or language barriers. 

Additionally, befriending services offer invaluable support to older adults, individuals living with dementia, and their caregivers. By providing companionship and understanding, these services not only alleviate loneliness but also foster a sense of belonging and community among those who might otherwise feel disconnected and overlooked. 

Become a Patron: Embrace the Role of a Friendship Ambassador

Joining as a Friendship Ambassador for Stand Together Network (STN) is not just a socially responsible action, but it also enriches your personal life. By becoming an ambassador, you play a key role in promoting the impactful work we do at STN. 

As a Friendship Ambassador, you can:

  • Spread the Word: Share information about STN with your family, friends, and colleagues. This is especially helpful if you know someone who would be an excellent mentor, someone who could benefit from our services, or a fundraiser looking to support a meaningful cause.
  • Organise Workplace Presentations: Arrange a lunchtime presentation at your workplace to introduce your colleagues to STN and its mission.
  • Engage Online: Support us digitally by liking our Facebook page, following us on Twitter, and engaging in online conversations about our services.
  • Nominate STN: Propose STN as your ‘Charity of the Year’ at your workplace or within your community.
  • Become a Media Spokesperson: If you’re an existing mentor, patron, or fundraising supporter, take on the role of an official media spokesperson. Be prepared for interviews with journalists and ready to articulate the work STN does. 

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