Building the FAiR Befriending Service – Exciting First Update

Setting up a befriending service

Time for something that will hopefully brighten your day – an update on our progress in setting up the FAiR befriending service, from our new-in-post Community Volunteer Training Coordinator, Kathy Crowther …

Community Volunteer Training Coordinator at FAiR

It really is an exciting time to be part of FAiR’s vision to spread connection, compassion and increased sense of community in our local area, as preparations for launching our Befriending Service take shape. Much of this preparation sees me at the computer – drawing up policies and procedures, reaching out to online networks, sending emails – and the irony of this isn’t wasted on me. After all, it’s this same fast-paced world where technology often connects us which can leave many feeling disconnected!

Which is part of the reason why our Befriending Service is being set up, but there are many other reasons too – disability, lack of finances or opportunities, health and wellbeing issues, can all creep in and overwhelm, with or without digital distractions, And sometimes just knowing where to go, or where’s a good place to start for reconnecting with the community, can be the stumbling block to making connections.

So that’s what we aim to help with and it’s great to take a moment to catch a breath and post an update on where we are in building the service.  At the moment:


  • FAiR is now part of Befriending Networks, sharing a host of information, training opportunities and expertise with and from other befriending organisations across the UK.
  • Our policy documents and processes are being completed and embedded, ready for the start of the service.
  • At our 6 month ‘Thank You’ lunch for volunteers, I was able to meet many of the fabulous volunteers who have been contributing their time and skills to FAiR so far. It was great to chat and meet those who are hoping to become befriending volunteers. With that in mind …
  • We’ve also been setting up our volunteering pathway, so whatever side of befriending a volunteer wants to get involved in – FAiR events, community befriending, telephone befriending or home visits – there will be a plan and a pathway in place.
  • We’re also taking the time to grow our community network and embed connections with other community services who will be supporting or referring to our befriending services. Our Trustees are doing amazing work to support this and large local organisations – looking at you Rother Voluntary Action and Sussex Outreach Services – have been a great support whilst I’ve been building our service.
  • I was able to go along to my first Tilling, Tea and Cake on 20th April and met a good many people whilst serving the coffee! I was able to chat to several peole about the service and garner interest and ideas about how it might run best to suit our community members. I look forward to coming along to meet more visitors and volunteers at the next TT&C on 18th May 24.
  • Oh and we’re getting into our groove with grant-seeking and also trying to put some FUN into fundraising! Local donations are an amazing help too, as Chris shared earlier this month, Kit McLean of Elm Tree Boot Fair has been a very welcome visitor with a donation which takes us closer to launching our telephone befriending service. And we’re also hoping that those who shop online might be able to support us through Give As You Live, to help boost online fundraising (blog on that coming soon)!

Building a befriending service

So we’re working hard and feeling happy and motivated as we build a community service that will truly connect people – those who may be feeling isolated or lonely and those who want to have a positive impact on our community. Since I’ve been in this role for less than two months, it’s clear to me that there’s something incredibly fulfilling about coming together with like-minded individuals who share a passion for making Rother a happier, friendlier place.

And let’s not forget about the ripple effect. Every chat, momentary contact or friendship formed through FAiR activities has the potential to inspire kindness and compassion in others.

Of course, starting a befriending service isn’t without its challenges. It takes time, dedication, and a whole lot of heart but our group activity, Tilling, Tea and Cake is of course proving a real success. With its focus on wellbeing and connection, this event becomes more popular each month and is truly helping FAiR become part of the community and for individuals to find out more about what we’re doing – whether they wish to sign up to use our befriending service or to support it as a volunteer.

So, if you’ve been dreaming of making a difference in your community and spreading a little sunshine along the way, please consider getting involved. Just pop along to our next Tilling, Tea and Cake, contact us via the website or social media to find out how. And I’ll be back in May with another update and hopefully a timeline for launching another part of our service!

Building the FAiR Befriending Service – Exciting First Update