As a volunteer Befriender you will provide companionship to  a person (client) who has a palliative condition. The Befriending relationship provides the client with additional social support by developing an emotionally supportive relationship, helping the client to feel less isolated and more connected to their community. Befriending complements social and domestic support but does not replace it. Befrienders do not provide personal care, Befrienders offer friendship.

Befrienders offer regular contact, companionship and a link to the wider community.

Please see below, this should give you a little taste of what a Volunteer Befriender’s role looks like:

Purpose of role

As a volunteer Befriender you will provide companionship and at times practical help to a person (client) with a palliative condition. The Befriending relationship helps to provide the client with additional social support by developing an affirming, emotion-focused relationship supporting the client, and where appropriate their carer, to feel less isolated and more connected to the world around them. Befriending complements social, health and domestic support, it does not replace it. Befrienders do not provide personal or medical care, Befrienders offer regular contact, companionship and a link to the wider community, helping with practical tasks where needed. This may include sharing a meal, picking up a prescription, accompanying them to an appointment, walking the dog, reading to them, letter writing, light gardening. For some it may simply mean providing a comforting presence, lending emotional support by just sitting and being present. The role of a Befriender is a very important and rewarding one for both client and Befriender.


Services and activities will vary as they are tailor-made for each individual befriending relationship, but may include:

  • Visiting clients, usually at their home on an agreed date/time
  • Offering consistency, regular visits, giving the client something to plan for and look forward to
  • Providing practical help, e.g. supporting them to get to an appointment, walking their dog, making them a sandwich.
  • Providing companionship, e.g. listening, talking, reading and sharing activities
  • Providing a comforting presence, emotional support and human contact- being present
  • Providing opportunities for engagement in social activities within the community
  • Offering support whilst respecting a person’s independence and dignity
  • Working closely with the client’s family and carer
  • Offering respite for family/carers
  • Assisting, were appropriate with trips and visits, such as the garden centre, library etc.
  • Signposting the client/carer to other agencies (with the support of the Coordinator)
  • Maintaining documentation as required
  • Communicating and report regularly to the Coordinator
  • Informing the Coordinator if you have any concerns or worries
  • Attend all mandatory training sessions appropriate to your role
  • Attending induction, training, team catch up sessions and 1:1 catch ups

What you will not be expected to do:

  • Personal Care
  • Any manual handling including heavy household task or heavy shopping
  • Administer or give any advice regarding medication
  • Giving advice regarding legal or financial affairs
  • Or any other task that you feel uncomfortable with

Personal attributes and skills 

  • Strong listening skills
  • Strong communication skills
  • Able to work independently
  • Sensitivity and respect for others whose values and beliefs may differ from your own
  • A high level of self-awareness
  • A desire to improve the quality of life of others with life shortening illnesses
  • Patience, adaptability, flexibility and a willingness to help others
  • Reliable, honest, and able to commit to regular, on-going visits
  • A commitment to working in a manner that safeguards all
  • Able and happy to work on your own while remaining part of a larger team
  • A commitment and ability to work in a confidential and non- judgmental caring manner
  • A commitment to undertake an induction and attend necessary training and support sessions
  • An ability to work within the policies, procedures and guidelines of St Luke’s Hospice, including Lone Working and H&S

How we support you:

  • Relevant induction
  • Ongoing, relevant training and other development opportunities
  • 1:1 and group support
  • Reimburse out of pocket travel expenses, in line with our policy

Benefits to the Befriender:

  • Experiencing the satisfaction and fulfilment that is derived from making a positive contribution to the well-being of an individual, their family and your local community
  • Getting to know fellow Befrienders and clients and growing your personal network in your local community
  • The opportunity to enhance your communication skills and gain a greater understanding of life-shortening illnesses
  • Access to training and on-going support to ensure your experience is fulfilling and rewarding

No qualifications are required, but due to the nature of the role, we require 2 references and an enhanced Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) check.

St Luke’s is always looking for more Befrienders, if you think you may like to become a Volunteer Befriedner then please complete our on line application. For more information on how to become a Befriender please contact our Befriending Co-ordinator, Catherine Holligan on 07496 073430/01606 555687.