We provide our befriending service to isolated, physically disabled adults 18+, living in Edinburgh.
Our volunteer Befrienders are from all walks of life – retired, students, able-bodied or disabled. Once linked with a ‘Befriendee’, they visit them regularly (usually on a weekly basis) to keep them company, sit and chat, play games or help get them out and about.
Trips out can involve simply going along to a café for a cup of tea or a longer trip (up to 3 hrs) to go shopping for example.
Befrienders are not responsible for providing any kind of personal care or administering medication. All of our volunteers are provided with complete training, including disability awareness, boundaries, confidentiality, communication techniques, safety and even wheelchair handling training if necessary. We also conduct enhanced disclosures and take up references for all our volunteers.
Our Befrienders and Befriendees are very carefully linked through a matching process which involves the Befriending team getting to know both individuals well on a personal level and finding out exactly what they would like to achieve from the service. Similar interests, hobbies and character are always taken into account in the matching process.
Both Befriender and Befriendee are supported by the Befriending team after the link and regular reviews are carried out with both parties to ensure everyone is happy with their situation.
Volunteer Befrienders who are limited on their private time can choose to be a ‘lunch buddy’. This typically involves visiting their Befriendee during their lunch break for an hour once a week to enjoy their lunch together and have a chat. All training and support, as detailed above, is still provided. Befrienders are not responsible for providing the Befriendee’s lunch in this situation, or for providing any personal support such as assistance with eating.
A ‘facilitated friendship’ involves 2 disabled people, possibly already known to each other, being supported to maintain (or begin a new friendship) as they have lost touch through housing or mobility issues. This situation may or may not involve the role of a volunteer Befriender depending on each individual case. Where a Befriender is involved, both disabled people become Befriendees of that person. The Befriender volunteer would visit each of them individually on a regular basis, but also ensure that there is a visit “outside the home” once a month where all 3 parties get together.
Expenses covered by Ecas
All transport costs incurred by a volunteer Befriender in order to visit their Befriendee will be paid for by Ecas. Transport costs involved for a Facilitated Friendship will be covered by Ecas.
Cost of small refreshments bought outside the home e.g. at a café during a befriending visit can be claimed by the volunteer Befriender, up to a limit of £6 per month. However, the Befriendee would be expected to cover their own cost of refreshments.
Outings can be arranged by the Befriender & Befriendee. Whilst some trips will have no costs, or minimal costs Ecas will normally assist with funding for 1 per month where additional costs are incurred. Each outing will be assessed on a case by case basis as to what expenses Ecas will cover. However, generally Ecas may pay for entrance fees and refreshments for up to £30 per volunteer per year.
Costs for carers/PAs
In some cases there will also be a need for a carer/PA to support an outing or to support a volunteer who is disabled. Each case is viewed individually, but in general Ecas will pay for support for an outing about once per month and fortnightly support for a volunteer if no other financial means are available to cover this.