Befriending

Our telephone, online and face-to-face befriending services for older people across Great Britain helps tackle feelings of loneliness and isolation

Are you looking for a friendly chat or a visit from someone who listens and understands you?

Many older people across Great Britain face loneliness and isolation, which can affect their health and wellbeing. But there is a way to overcome this. You can join our befriending service and find a friend who shares similar hobbies, interests, or background.

Our befriending service is a free and confidential service that matches you with a compassionate volunteer. Our befriending service is flexible and tailored to your needs and preferences. You can choose how often and how long you want to chat with your friend, either by phone, online, or face-to-face. 

Befrienders can also support older people to settle back at home and regain their independence following discharge from hospital.

Our befriending service is more than just a service. It is a community of older people and volunteers who care for each other and enjoy each other’s company. By joining our befriending service, you can make new friends, stay connected to your community, and improve your quality of life.

Our befriending services include:

Telephone/online befriending 

A regular conversation (usually weekly) over the phone or online chat with a carefully matched volunteer. This service is available across Great Britain and is suitable for older people who prefer to stay at home or have limited mobility.

Check & Chat 

A shorter conversation (usually monthly) to provide a reassuring regular contact. This is a popular service for those who appreciate light touch support and can also be a steppingstone into befriending.

Telephone Tree 

A friendship building service to bring together like-minded people through a weekly phone call, supported by a trained volunteer. 

Write Good Friends 

Share letters, email, or instant messaging with a friendly volunteer or join our weekly on-line creative writing group.

LGBTQ+ telephone befriending 

A special service which aims to address the greater risk of loneliness and depression that older LGBTQ+ people may face. The service supports older people who may identify as LGBTQ+ or would benefit from talking to a volunteer about the LGBTQ+ community - perhaps to support a family member or talk about their feelings in a safe space.

Face-to-face befriending 

A regular visit from a volunteer who will spend time with you and engage in activities that you enjoy. A typical visit could include a sit down with tea and cake followed by a conversation about your lives, or maybe you’ll chat while you play cards. The content of the visit is entirely up to you but the befriender will always provide a listening ear. We can also signpost you to other support services if needed.

This service may be available in your area if we have a local MHA Communities scheme. You can use our service finder below to check the availability of this service near you.

News and Blogs

08 November 2023

Being a Befriender

You could, like Beth provide moments of joy and connection for an older person. The beauty of telephone befriending is that you can be anywhere in the country, you just need some phone signal to connect.

View Blog

03 November 2023

Telephone Befriending: Carol and Jae’s Story

Hear from Carol and Jae telling us about their experience of telephone befriending at MHA and what a difference it made.

View Article

10 March 2023

Telephone befriending service set up by MHA creates amazing friendship built on” trust and respect”

The service offers support and companionship to older people who feel or are at risk of becoming lonely and/or socially isolated across the UK.

View Article

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is befriending? 

Befriending is a service that provides support and friendship to older people who may be feeling lonely or isolated. Befrienders can offer face-to-face, telephone, or online contact with an older person on a regular basis.

What are the benefits of befriending? 

Befriending can help reduce feelings of social isolation and loneliness, improve mental and physical health, increase confidence and self-esteem, and enhance the quality of life of older people.

What service does a befriender provide? 

Our Befriending Service is currently able to offer telephone befriending across Great Britain.

Our trained befrienders will contact you over the telephone or through an online messaging service for a friendly chat. Calls are usually weekly. We also offer a monthly Check & Chat service for those who appreciate light touch support and a PenPals option if you prefer to keep in touch by writing.

Face-to-face befriending may be available in areas where we have a local MHA Communities scheme. Please use our MHA Communities service checker above to see if there is a MHA Communities scheme near you.

Face to face befrienders visit your home on a regular basis at a time that is convenient to both the volunteer and yourself. 

A typical visit could include a sit down with tea and cake followed by a chat about your lives, or maybe you’ll chat while you play cards.

The content of the visit is entirely up to you but the befriender will always provide a listening ear. We can also signpost you to other support services if needed. 

Who can be referred to our befriending service? 

Anyone can refer an older person to the service - family members, GP’s, health visitors, nurses or even a next-door neighbour. Please ensure that you have the permission of the person being referred.

Our service is aimed at people 55 and over and calls are intended to be conversational. We support older people with a variety of needs but please be aware that the aim of the service is to reduce loneliness and isolation. Our volunteers are given full training, but are not able to provide specialised support or counselling.

How can I support the befriending service? 

We currently have a waiting list for our service and are actively recruiting befriending volunteers to help us to support all those who need our service. Find out more about becoming a befriending volunteer >

As a charity, we rely on charitable and fundraised income to help us continue delivering essential support to older people across Great Britain, such as our befreinding service. If you would like to support the work we do, please consider making a donation to the befriending service.

If you would like to fundraise for the befriending team, please visit our fundraising page for ideas or contact our Fundraisisng Team by emailing fundraising@mha.org.uk

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MHA Active is a lifestyle and wellness app, designed to support older people who want to keep active and connected.

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