Sands Befrienders play a vital role in offering support to bereaved families throughout the UK. Many of us know first-hand how much comfort and support a Befriender can give. The reassurance of talking to someone else who has been affected by the death of a baby and who is nearby to phone or to meet in a group is invaluable. Sands is very proud to be able to offer this service and we are hugely grateful to the many volunteers around the country on whom the service relies.
Are you ready to befriend?
Befriending is an emotionally demanding role, and both you and we need to be sure you are ready to take it on and have suitable support yourself. If befriending isn’t right for you at this time, that’s ok. If you want, you can get involved in other ways, and you can of course continue to access support for as long as you need it.
To help us decide with you whether you are ready to befriend, we have a number of checks in place that we will take you through.
Before you apply
Before you apply to attend Sands Befriender Training, please make sure you can meet the following requirements:
- At least two years should have elapsed since your own bereavement . Many of our volunteers tell us that they had no idea how the first anniversaries would affect them until it happened.
- You are linked with your nearest local Group and have attended at least 4 support meetings. This is so you can get a sense of what being a befriender involves – if there isn’t a Sands Group close to you, please contact us.
If you decide that you a ready to become a Sands Befriender, please complete an application form. This will ask you to briefly comment on how you meet the following criteria:
- Good communication and listening skills
- Awareness of the importance of confidentiality
- Able to manage your own experience and memories of bereavement
- Awareness of your own support needs
- Non-judgmental attitude to others
Our application form will also ask for two referees, and we will need satisfactory references before you start befriending. The references can be from someone who has known you in a personal or professional capacity for at least two years but not a family member or close friend. One of them will need to be known to you outside of Sands. We will ask them to comment on your suitability to be a befriender.
During the pre-course period we contact your local Group to seek confirmation you have attended their support meetings. We will ask the befrienders in the Group whether they feel you have reached a point where you might be ready to offer support to others.
We will set up an informal chat for you with Lesley Dewar, our Befriender Training Coordinator. Lesley will be able to give you much more information about the training, and help you to decide if you are ready to commit to what can be a challenging two days.
After the course
Sometimes a training course will throw up some concerns about your readiness to befriend. We might need to have a follow-up call with you to discuss certain points, to set up certain special arrangements, or to let you know that this is not the right time for you to start befriending. This is not a failure. It is important for our befrienders, and for anyone they might support, that they are in the right place emotionally. If you are not there at the present time, it is better to focus on other ways to make a difference for other bereaved families, and maybe come back to befriending at another time.
Once you have successfully completed the course, and we have agreed you are ready to befriend, with satisfactory references, we will let your Group know that you are now ready to start befriending with them, on a trial basis. Your probation period will last until you have successfully completed Befriender Training Part 2.
After six months you will need to book onto a part 2 training course. At that point we will review how your befriending has been going, answer any questions you have based on your experience, and hopefully confirm your probation period is completed.
All befrienders need to be regularly reflecting about their role, identifying areas for learning and development, and our part 2 training courses are open to all befrienders at any time.