Become a Face 2 Face befriender

Become a Face 2 Face befriender

Face 2 Face befriending is a peer support service that offers emotional support to parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) around the time of their child’s diagnosis, or when facing new challenges. The service is delivered by a team of parent carers who have all received training to become befrienders.

Join the team

Do you feel you have the knowledge and experience to support other parents? Are you interested in becoming a befriender? Our training programme will build your listening skills, help you to identify and develop the qualities of a befriender and establish boundaries. You will also have training in safeguarding and the parent journey. See the FAQs below for more details.

Valeria says:

They say volunteering is a service for the benefit of others, but I find, more often than not, I’m the one benefiting from it; I strongly believe it releases dopamine, as the feel-good factor is always present once I feel I’ve helped a family. It’s been a learning experience – my communication skills have improved greatly as have my problem-solving skills. The sense of achievement and satisfaction is priceless when you see your volunteering is making a difference.

FAQs for volunteer befrienders

How do I register interest in becoming a befriender?
Please contact Marie Baker via email marie@amazesussex.org.uk or mobile 07484 051755.
Is there an interview?
No, there isn’t a formal interview process. We have an informal chat which gives plenty of time to answer any questions, to see whether it’s the right opportunity for you.
How much time commitment do I need to give?
This really depends on the amount of time you have available. It can be as little as one hour every three weeks, supporting just one family. Or, it can be as much as a few hours a week, providing valuable support to maybe two or three families via telephone, email or in person. Amaze is very flexible and recognises that our volunteers are all parent carers themselves and have commitments of their own. We know that sometimes, personal circumstances can change quickly.  Hours can be increased or decreased if needed. For instance, if there is an emergency or sickness, we will often have someone else in the team to cover support. We are very grateful for the time they give to support other families.
Will I need to have a DBS check?
Yes, as a volunteer working with potentially vulnerable adults and young people, a DBS check will need to be carried out. This is free for the volunteer. It’s very straight forward and is an online form which we will complete with you. We just need three forms of personal identification and you will be guided through the process.
What does becoming a befriender mean?
Our Face 2 Face peer support befriending service gives families in Sussex support around the time of their child’s diagnosis or when facing new challenges. Our befriending is delivered by a team of volunteers, all parents of children with additional needs, who receive intensive training and ongoing supervision.

Our Face 2 Face team will carry out an initial telephone assessment with new parents and explain more about the service we offer.  Following this, eligible parents will be matched to one of our befrienders who will continue to support them flexibly for up to six months.  This might range from weekly to fortnightly visits, or just keeping in touch via phone, text or email.

Ruth says:

I get a warm feeling every single time I notice the family is feeling safe to speak up, when they feel they are listened to. And when they feel they’re not alone, that we understand them. It’s very rewarding.

What is the training like and do I have to pay for it?
No. It is free. Training is for 3 hours a week, over a 6 week period. Training happens virtually, via zoom. This works well for parent carers, as it can be completed in the comfort of your own home.
Will I have to travel?
We do carry out face to face home visits sometimes with new parent carers, and some in-person meetings which may involve taking a train or driving.
Will I get paid expenses for my travel and refreshments?
Yes. All volunteer expenses are reimbursed.
Is the befriending service online or in person?
Befriending can be done entirely virtually, as sometimes parent carers just prefer telephone or email support. Some parent carers like in-person support only and like to meet up for a walk or a cup of coffee in a café. This can be agreed with your befriendee and can be flexible depending upon what both parties are comfortable with and have time for.
How do I best support the family?
Befriending is a very powerful way of supporting a parent carer who is feeling isolated or unsure around the current situation they find themselves in. Just knowing someone else who understands from their own lived experience, is enough to reduce those feelings. Having a befriender can give them more confidence and increase the ability to cope and get through the difficult periods. Just listening on the telephone, replying via email, or having a regular slot where you meet face to face for a walk or a hot drink together in a café, provides the reassurance that people need. Sometimes it is as simple as just knowing someone else is there, at the end of the phone, if you need to talk.
Do I have to take on a family immediately after the training?
No. You can start befriending whenever the time is right for you.
Do I have to have a child with a specific additional need before supporting another family?
All of our befrienders are parent carers themselves, so they really do understand the demands families face when living with a child or young person with additional needs. Lived experience is invaluable and essential part of the befriending service that we offer.
How can I help a family if I come across a condition I know nothing about?
We try to match people with a befriender who has direct experience of some of the same challenges being faced by the befriendee. However, there are times where conditions or circumstances arise which are new to befrienders, where additional support or guidance is needed from someone else in the team. There is always someone else around to guide, advise and support our befriending team. We have regular team check-in’s to ensure people are happy and comfortable with the support they are providing.
How long will I need to befriend a family for?
Six months is usually the maximum time we initially agree to provide befriending support for, as our list of people waiting for the support is continually growing. Some parent carers may only need a befriender for a short time, other families may have more challenges or complex issues to address, which may require a longer befriending relationship. Circumstances can really vary from family to family, so we are flexible to accommodate those needs as best we can.
How do I reassure families when I know the waiting lists for help are so long?
Waiting lists are being addressed and in some instances, contracts for CAHMS are being  sub-contracted to private organisations to reduce waiting times. Simply listening can be enough for a parent to feel validated and heard by someone who understands what it is like, being in limbo during the whole assessment process.
Will I be supported by someone at Amaze if I have any worries or concerns?
Yes. All Amaze befriending staff have regular check-ins with their supervisors to go over any issues that arise when providing support for parent carers. There are always staff around to provide advice and direction for the befriending team.
Will I be part of a team?
Yes, there is a large team of volunteer befrienders working across both Brighton & Hove and East Sussex. Amaze doesn’t currently provide a befriending service in West Sussex.
What happens if I start befriending and it's too much of a commitment for me?
We don’t encourage befrienders to take on more than they can cope with. We start with assigning just one family, matched appropriately. Support can be as little as one call every three weeks and can increase or decrease. Befrienders can also take a break if they need to and come back to the service when the time is right.
What happens if I start befriending and don't like it?
Amaze makes sure to check in regularly with befrienders to get regular updates and to discuss feelings that arise when giving support to parent carers. During these check-ins we work hard to ensure befrienders feel supported with their own needs that may come up when carrying out this role.
Will I get a permanent job after volunteering? How can I do that?
Many parent carers who have started out as volunteers have gone on to become part of the Amaze permanent work force. There is not a set process for this. Volunteers get equal opportunities to apply for job vacancies. The benefit of having had voluntary experience in the befriending role is it can be very relevant experience when applying for permanent roles within Amaze, alongside the invaluable first hand lived experience when you are a parent carer of a child with additional needs.
Will I meet other befrienders?
Yes, we run group training sessions and have regular online supervisions both individually and as a group. The groups are encouraged to talk about their experiences and share how they tackle issues that arise, as well as sharing learned experiences around how best to signpost or guide parents where to go for additional support.

Jhuma says:

I initially took on the role of a befriender for selfish reasons as it was benefitting me by learning when talking to others. It was really nice to be part of the befriending team, developing friendships and having support. It was a lot of fun training together. I really enjoyed it and I realised how much I liked learning again.

It’s made me a much more patient person. I am a better listener and it’s forced me to pay attention to what someone is saying.

Also, the network of people I know now is really extensive. You pick up a lot of friendships along the way which helps you to navigate the difficult times.

To volunteer as a befriender or find out more, contact Marie Baker via marie@amazesussex.org.uk or on 07484 051755.

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