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 recent 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

Become a Befriender

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.

After the course

Sometimes a training course will raise questions 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 that our befrienders are in the right place emotionally so they can be truly available to those they befriend. If you or your trainers do not feel you are quite ready, it is better to focus on other ways to make a difference for other bereaved families and possibly reconsider 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. 

All befrienders need to regularly reflect on their role, identifying areas for learning and development and thinking of how to support others in a sustainable way. This may mean working on boundaries, improving your self-care and taking ongoing training to top-up your skills.

Our Bereavement Support Team runs regular check-ins for you to discuss your experiences and connect with other befrienders to support you in your journey.


Sands Befriender Training

"I didn't realise how much support I would get from the rest of the group and Sands."

Our course

The befriender training course enables participants to develop their befriending skills. In particular they will learn how to build a safe and trusting environment in which anyone affected by the death of a baby feels supported and able to explore and express their feelings.

"The training has given me the courage and confidence to befriend."

At the end of this course the facilitators of the training will be able to decide if an individual is ready to befriend and you too will be challenged to decide if you feel ready to volunteer in this capacity.


Course details 2020/21

Please note, all Befriender Training for 2020/21 has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Our training is currently on hold until a remote option is ready for delivery during the time when we are unable to meet face-to-face. Please watch this space for developments and make sure you access the Sands portal, where you will find a presentation about befriending for Sands

More information will be posted on our website and social media in Spring 2021.

For more information, please contact

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