Agenda item


Presentation by Mike Niles, letsbfriend


Mike Niles, B:friend, gave the following powerpoint presentation:-


-        2017 Charity launched out of a garage in Doncaster

-        2018 Received National Lottery funding

-        2019 Project expanded across the whole of South Yorkshire

-        2020 Covid-19 increased demand more than ever seen before

-        Present Now created over 1,700 befriending pairings


Befriending – Principles

-        Cuppa and chat each week

-        Face-to-face

-        Local

-        Friend rather than volunteer

-        A good match is not just about shared interests

-        People feel safe and can ‘be themselves’

-        No such thing as the ‘perfect pairing’

-        Promote power symmetry

-        Opportunities for neighbours to demonstrate their skills and value

-        Establish clear boundaries

-        Aim for positive endings: onward referral or repairs


Social Club – Principles

-        A key strand of intervention

-        Unique sessions

-        Each week was different

-        Rooted in theory

-        Focussed on the Five Ways to Wellbeing model

-        Members felt safe and could ‘be themselves’

-        Promote shared identity and what people had in common

-        Activities were fun and purposeful

-        Opportunities for members to demonstrate their skills and value

-        Actively encourage co-designed sessions

-        Anti-ageism zone: acceptance of everyone


Some Numbers

-        305 befriend pairings made

-        182 social bundles created and delivered

-        64 partner organisations worked with

-        384 social club sessions delivered

-        180 telephone social club sessions

-        873 total number of older neighbours supported

-        26% attrition rate

-        7,680 cups of tea/coffee made

-        114 legacy pairings confirmed

-        18,825 volunteer hours (total)


Since we started

-        725 current befriend pairings (average increase of 257% per year) (last year was 1% increase)

-        873 current older neighbours being reached (average increase of 196% per year) (last year was 28%)


How we compared last year

-        114 South London Cares

-        66 North London Cares

-        30 Liverpool Cares

-        280 Time to Talk Befriending

-        40 SCCCC

-        305 b:friend


Social Value Add

-        According to the Social Value Engine tool, every £1 invested in the project returns £8.20 in social value add.  The result was compound impact over time


Defining Principles

-        No-one should have no one

-        We facilitate meaningful community connections to transform an individual’s value of themselves, reduce their feeling of loneliness and develop agency to enable someone to build resilience in later life

-        Our befriending project will always be free at the point of delivery.  We never charge for friendship and always prioritise face-to-face: in person and in the community

-        We strive to reduce social isolation and improve wellbeing for older people and young people alike by creating opportunities for community togetherness

-        We reject any form of discrimination and always act decisively to instances of prejudice

-        We bring people together to dilute division created by age, heritage, digital skills and attitudinal divides

-        Activity was equitable and collaborative.  We consult older neighbours when making decisions and only accept voluntary contributions to ensure anyone can participate regardless of financial circumstance


Pledge Contract

-        Strive relentlessly to be an inclusive organisation

-        Champion good mental health by providing access to staff and volunteers

-        Pay the UK Living Wage to all staff

-        Target net zero annual carbon emissions


2022 b:friend Interventions around social determinants of health

-    Preventative intervention around connection

-    Volunteers considered a key community asset

-    Investment in Social Value Add projects

-    Multi-year commitment to keeping people well

-    Meaningful relationships were a ‘need to have’

-    Leading UK provider of community-led befriending


Discussion ensued with the following issues raised/clarified:-


·        Voluntary Action Rotherham and the CCG, in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University, had undertaken evaluation with a cohort of clients taking part in the Social Prescribing Scheme.  Could b:friending be included in the evaluation?

·        Rotherham had a Social Value Policy; part of the next step for the partnership was to extend the “ask” within that to understand the value of volunteer hours and the impact on services and peoples’ health and wellbeing

·        The project totally fitted with the ethos of the Health and Care Bill currently going through Parliament i.e. looking at the whole person


Mike was thanked for his presentation.


Resolved:-  (1)  That the presentation be noted.


(2)  That Chris Edwards and Shafiq Hussain meet with Mike Niles to discuss further the possibility of including the project within the evaluation carried out by Sheffield Hallam University and possible funding opportunities.

ACTION:-  Chris Edwards/Shafiq Hussain