The Mercers’ Company & Independent Age, 2021
Befriending is a long-established approach to tackling loneliness, involving regular meetings between two people for the purposes of conversation and companionship. Schemes typically match a person who has limited social contact with a volunteer, who then contacts them on a regular basis.
The Mercers’ Company and Independent Age commissioned this study to understand the experience of befriending in this extraordinary period, and to identify lessons for the future. It draws on the insights and reflections of over 70 organisations involved in befriending, including highly experienced organisations adapting to new circumstances, and organisations which started their befriending schemes as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As well as schemes supporting older people, The Mercers’ Company and Independent Age spoke to those working with people with sensory impairments and long-term conditions, and other groups at particular risk of isolation, including specific ethnic minority communities, unpaid carers and LGBTQ+ people.