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Project information

Befriending Service

Our Befriending Service offers a vital lifeline to many older people who would otherwise feel lonely & isolated, through a regular friendly telephone call. The service is free & the calls are made by our dedicated volunteers. We want to develop the service to reach more lonely older people.

The project is ongoing

Charity information: Age UK Norfolk

Age UK Norfolk logo
  • Need


    There are estimated to be about 38,000 people aged 65 and over in Norfolk who are lonely (that’s 1 in 5), with a quarter of those surveyed saying they never leave their home. Sadly this is the reality for so many older people, who have been coping with loneliness year after year and describe loneliness as ‘living through their memories.’ Isolation can also lead onto other issues, with lonely people more likely to experience poor physical or mental health or be vulnerable to exploitation.


    Some older people can go for a week without speaking to anyone. Our regular calls help alleviate the feelings related to isolation & contribute in maintaining mental health and wellbeing. Norfolk is a large rural county & a telephone-based service allows us to optimise the number of people we contact & volunteers are community-based as they can make the calls from home. This means our volunteers represent a wide cross-section of society & this helps in matching service users to volunteers.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To offer a telephone Befriending Service to lonely and isolated older people in Norfolk.


    » Telephoning the older person at least once a week & chatting, doing quizzes and talking about events that have taken place since the last call.
    » Follow up on issues talked about during the call and signpost or cross-refer within the organisation to provide additional help and support.

    What success will look like

    The Befriending Service is valued by the people who use it and we have regular feedback from service users about the benefits of the Service.

    Aim 2

    To develop the Befriending Service to reach more lonely older people in Norfolk.


    » We will recruit more volunteers to make the calls by developing existing and building new relationships and partnerships in the county.
    » We will offer the Befriending Service to more lonely older people by promoting the Service through awareness raising of the Service.

    What success will look like

    We will increase the number of older people that we provide the Service to each week by 10%.

    Aim 3

    To fully fund the Befriending Service.


    » To apply for funding from local funders. Participate in fundraising initiatives such as the Big Give and explore a fundraising campaign.

    What success will look like

    The Service will run at break even. We will increase the number of funders and the amount of money that is raised.

  • Impact


    Norfolk has a high number of people aged 65+.
    There are estimated to be 38,000 people aged 65+ in Norfolk who are lonely (that’s 1 in 5). Isolation can also lead onto other issues, with lonely people more likely to experience poor physical & mental health. The Befriending Service will help to alleviate these problems and contribute to improved wellbeing. We use a tool to measure improvements to wellbeing and members are invited to complete annual phone review. Case studies are also used.


    Recruiting sufficient volunteers is a risk. We have dealt with this by recruiting the people who have previously used the Service to become volunteers, thus increasing our volunteer base.

    Insufficient funding to run the Service. We have a plan to diversify our sources for funding the Service. This includes developing our partnership working and increasing the number of bids to Trusts and Grant-making bodies. We are exploring running our own fundraising campaign.


    We report on an annual basis in our Annual Review which is available to our donors. We fulfil all reporting requirements from corporates and Trusts and Grant-making bodies. Our Befriending Service is covered in the many talks and presentations we deliver to local community groups and organisations.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £4,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £4,000 Training, volunteer/staff cost To cover significant proportion of costs to train and support volunteers and to make the calls.

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Private company £15,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The project will be based in our Head Office at Old Catton, Norwich and delivered across the county of Norfolk.


    Older people in Norfolk and the volunteers who help to deliver the Service.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Age UK Norfolk has 70+ years' experience of supporting older people in the county. We are experienced in developing and running services in a rural county such as Norfolk.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.



    To make a weekly chatty telephone call to the service user(s) they have been matched with and provide feedback to staff for monitoring purposes.


    To recruit, train and support volunteers who provide the Service and to monitor the Service to ensure we are providing the best quality.

    Line Manager

    To supervise and support the staff team to provide a quality service to older people.


    To be the first point of contact, provide administrative support for all enquiries & send greetings cards to service users. Provide statistical data.

Gordon's story - Loneliness

"Her calls mean so much to me. I only have a visitor once a week and a lot of the time I get lonely and also low. I have no family as they have all died and so have most of my friends. The fact that she calls me regularly really helps me enormously."

Fran (not real name)