Message from our Chair

It’s almost two years since Mike first contacted me about joining him in the establishment of a new kind of local charity in Doncaster – b:Friend; one aimed at supporting older people and through this process enriching the lives of others, all bringing together a spirit of community.

This was only four months after the murder of Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire.

It is hard to think of a time where our county was more divided – between young and old, North and South, rich and poor. Jo’s death marked a national awakening of the need to examine the ways in which we were living, acknowledging the fragmentation and separation associated with modern life and the breakdown of community and social institutions over the past thirty years.

b:Friend has revealed a way to re-kindle connections, to encourage intergenerational communication and conversation.


In the first 12 months, we have worked hard to create an identity through local collaboration with health, social care and other voluntary sector providers.

We have received financial support from the Big Lottery and many other national, regional and local sponsors to enable our growth and expansion, ensuring that all processes are safe, robust and appropriate for the growth of new relationships.

As with the rapid pace of change within society, there is an increasing need for individuals to extract meaning from their lives; relationships are the intangible that can add quality and essence to life.


I anticipate over the next year, we will continue to grow with the recruitment of more volunteers and older neighbours, growth in the numbers of Social Clubs and the establishment of more sustainable sources of income.

I wish to thank our volunteers, funders, supporters and friends for the tremendous hard work and effort invested in supporting the charity and wish you all the best for the future.

Dr Rod Kersh, Chair, b:Friend




BLOG: Angela Cooper, b:Friend

For the last few weeks I have been contacting and visiting older people that we know are feeling isolated and lonely within the area of Denaby and Conisbrough. During this time I have come to realise that some of the older neighbours that I’ve been visiting don’t see anyone, not only from one day to the next, but for many days or even weeks at a time.

“I haven’t seen or spoken to a human being from Thursday to the Tuesday!”

For some, they are not only experiencing the awful feelings of being isolated and lonely, many are also feeling much worse; depressed, unloved, undervalued, a nuisance to others and lost!

“I am very lonely! I have always being a very sociable person who had many friends. My own family lives away and don’t get to see them as often as I would like and with me living to a good old age I have lost all my friends over the years – 27 friends in total, so I haven’t got any friends left now! My health restricts what I can do so I don’t really go out anywhere, I just carry on the best I can.”

That’s where I come in, the Warden.

I’m finding that most of the older neighbours are in need of human contact, seeing a friendly face, having a laugh or cry. Someone that listens to their concerns and, more importantly, someone who can/will open the door and connect them with the outside world again. By letting them know what is happening within their own community, what services are available for them to access, keeping them safe and getting them out and about – but mainly just offering an outlet in the monotony of isolation.

b:Friend have launched this pilot project, supported by Healthwatch Doncaster, to reach people otherwise unsupported. Back in 2011 the long-standing warden service ended replaced by an electronic pendant scheme which offers older people emergency response at the press of a button for a weekly fee. This has, however, reduced face-to-face contact so this pilot looks to measure the benefit of short weekly visits and calls on the wellbeing of isolated older neighbours.

More important is their wellbeing – it’s knowing that someone is there for them, someone is checking in on them, ensuring that all is well with them and there is someone out there that does care about them.

It’s a fabulous scheme – how a simple five minute phone call or 20 minute visit can bring so much positivity and value back into any person’s life – It’s just so great so see and hear the difference and I am just so proud to be a part of it.

If you’d like to find out about becoming a volunteer Warden in your area, email:

Written by Angela Cooper – Befriending Coordinator, b:Friend

JOB: Befriending Officer (30-hours)

Job role: Befriending Officer (24-month contract)
Reference: BO2018BAR
Location: Dearne, Barnsley
Salary: £20,138 per annum, pro rata (plus mileage allowance) on 30 hours per week contract (22.5 days annual leave incl. Bank Holidays and 2% pension contribution)
Application deadline: Monday 20th August at 12pm GMT (midday)
Start date: 17th September 2018

Job Specification – Befriending Officer Dearne


B:Friend (registered charity number: 1171148) pairs volunteer befrienders with socially isolated older neighbours to visit once a week for a cuppa and a chat. We aim to reduce loneliness among older members of the community and have an impact on secondary outcomes of isolation including onset of dementia, depression and hospital readmission.
Along with 1:1 befriending, b:Friend host weekly Social Club sessions offering peer support and group activities for the community. Activities vary from guest speakers, to craft sessions, to quizzes and games – all with the intention of engaging older neighbours who face social isolation.

Funded by the Barnsley Council and Nesta.

Job description:

Delivering the 1:1 befriending project, this role will require regular travel across the Dearne area to meet with volunteers, older neighbours and facilitate pairings. The Befriending Officer will be the first-contact for the 1:1 befriending project and provide support for our volunteers and older neighbours.

This post will also deliver and oversee two Social Club groups each of which are two-hours in duration. Activities, events and away-days will be planned and delivered by the Befriending Officer, and sessional staff, at Social Clubs which provide older neighbours, across the Dearne area, the opportunity to socialise once-a-week.

The successful candidate will:
• Lead the delivery of the 1:1 befriending project
• Manage the day-to-day relationships with new and existing organisational stakeholders
• Be jointly responsible for designing and delivering two Social Clubs per week
• Support the delivery of other Social Club groups across the Dearne area
• Administer our vital registers and records which track attendance, interactions, relationships and group activities along with demographic data
• Communicate regularly with volunteers through high quality email, text and other digital media channels, and older neighbours by phone and in person
• Talk passionately about our social clubs and the rest of our work at our regular induction evenings for new volunteers
• To carry out requests for references and Criminal Records Bureau checks.
• By facilitating initial introductions and providing on-going support (if required) in conjunction with the manager of the specific project.
• To be an effective community fundraiser supporting income generation targets
• To raise public awareness on issues relevant to the community and older people, publicise information and promote opportunities for older people to be involved in campaigns, consultations and community affairs

Specific responsibilities

This is a varied and dynamic role in which you will work with various stakeholders fundamental to the success of b:Friend.

We are therefore looking for an all-rounder: a real people-person with a warm, open personality and someone wanting to make a lasting contribution to a growing charity working on one of the defining issues of our time.

Please see specification document for essential and desirable skills >> Job Specification – Befriending Officer Dearne

How to apply:

To apply for this role please email quoting job reference BO2018BAR.

Please submit your CV and a cover letter explaining your strengths and motivation for applying for this position.

Application deadline: Monday 20th August 2018 at 12pm GMT (midday)
Interview date: 30th August 2018

Please return your documents no later than the dates and times referenced above as applications received after this time will not be considered. Any questions or if you’d like to discuss the role, please call: 07523 698530

Meet Stevie | b:Friend

Stevie blog photo

My name’s Stevie and I am a Befriending Officer at b:Friend. I have been with the charity for around two months now – although so much has happened it feels like it’s been two years!

My main focus is our 1:1 befriending project, where we pair up older neighbours across Doncaster with volunteer befrienders. This means meeting new people on a regular basis, some who I have only spoken to briefly over the phone and sometimes (like it can be for our volunteers) it can be quite a nerve wracking experience!

There are many important elements that I need to take into consideration when I am pairing older neighbours with befrienders.

Initially the pairing is based on locality. Quite often we see a bit of an imbalance, for example, an abundance of befrienders in one area while there is a lack of older neighbours referred into us. So when we are able to find someone in the same area it’s really exciting – we can crack on with moving one more person away from social isolation.

Once we find a potential pairing I will take the befriender to the older neighbour’s house for an initial accompanied visit. This can sometimes be quite a nervous meeting for both sides so it’s always good to start the conversation with a topic that everyone can relate to, I normally go with the local area.

Then it’s about finding commonalities between both people and building up what we hope will be a lasting friendship. I’ll keep in touch with each pairing to ensure that everyone is enjoying and benefitting from the experience.

It’s important for them both to know that sometimes friendships can take a while to build. However it’s most important to reiterate how significant their participation is in the project. Some of our older neighbours see nobody throughout the week, and similarly some of our befrienders may wish to increase their local social circle.

I hope to keep making many successful pairings through b:friend and am so grateful to the people who take an hour out of their weeks to improve a complete stranger’s life.


If you’d like to become a befriender, or find out more, please complete your application or email:

My friend, Hazel | Volunteers’ Week

Written by befriender, Julie:


I knew I wanted to get involved with volunteering when my own mum would say she was so bored and lonely. I remember thinking that she has me visiting her almost every day and carers coming too.

It made me think of all the lonely and isolated people who have no one at all – days must turn into weeks without anyone to talk to. Even older people with large families may be forgotten about so when I saw the b:Friend charity I knew I wanted to get involved.

I’m so glad I’ve met Hazel. At the time we first met she had recently lost her husband, and I’d just lost my mum, so we were able to help each other through some sad times, laughing and reminiscing.

We always have things to talk about – there are never any awkward silences. I look forward to my visits every week and always leave feeling happy – and I know Hazel is the same. She now has something to break up the week and, at 88 years old, she has a lot of life experience and there’s loads I’ve learned from her.

Becoming a volunteer has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done and I hope to continue. I just wish I could visit more people – it costs nothing to make someone smile 😊.

>> Tea & cake
>> Smiles & laughter
>> Heart-warming stories to remember forever

Ever considered volunteering an hour a week to befriend an isolated older neighbour? Join Julie and many others in Doncaster & become a befriender!

‘Worth their weight in gold’ | Volunteers’ Week


Blog written by Social Club Coordinator, Angela:

I coordinate b:Friend’s Denaby Social Club and am very fortunate that I have two lovely volunteers that come along to the group and help wherever they can to ensure a smooth running of the group.

We are a team and a team that’s works well together.

There is lots to do at a group. Preparing the room and getting all the refreshments & cakes ready, putting on the lively music and ensuring the activities are organised and all set to be given out when needed; all of this prior to the older neighbours coming. Once the members start coming, greeting them as they come through the door, making cuppas, chatting with them and giving them a listening ear. It’s all hustle and bustle at first when the members arrive, each asking each other across the table how they are whilst they are taking their coats off, then sitting and settling down with a cuppa, amongst friends whilst the many conversations continue on.

The room comes alive within minutes with all the chatter on various topics. We will then deliver some form of activity. Whether it be a quiz, guest speaker, games or challenge, whatever it may be you can guarantee we always have fun.

The 2 hours soon pass and everyone leaves with smiles on their faces after having an enjoyable morning. The jobs don’t stop there… we then see to the washing up and everything is neatly put away for the following week when we do it all over again. Our older neighbours love their Thursday mornings and we love ours too!


We all know that Social Clubs are important for our older neighbours, they are somewhere where they can come along and make new friends, engage in stimulating conversations, participate in quizzes, reminisce about days gone by, have a laugh and a joke, go on outings & day trips, be spoken and listened to and more importantly feel less isolated and alone.

I admire volunteers, they give something that can never be given back; their time and they do so freely. Volunteers are worth their weight in gold and our volunteers play a vital part of our social clubs. All our volunteers are fantastic and it’s important to acknowledge that without volunteers, we couldn’t possibly run our Social Clubs as successfully as we do without them – I know I certainly couldn’t without mine!


If you’d like to join a b:Friend Social Club, they currently run weekly in: Thorne, Mexborough, Rossington, Wheatley Hill and in Denaby (with Angela).

For more info, please email:

Befriender Vicky | Volunteers Week


Blog written by befriender, Vicky:
Like many, I had always loved the idea of volunteering and thought the sense of self-worth and giving must be very gratifying, not to mention the impact it would have for the charity! But also, like many, I had a job, a house to run, a husband, a child to juggle and no time. Throw in the dog walking and the extracurricular activities and my week has vanished!!

About 18 months ago there was a news item about loneliness and the elderly. I vividly remember having this overwhelming feeling of sadness for the person featured, thinking how dreadful to get to that time of life and not have a single soul to call on. Then that feeling turned to anger as I thought “how on earth, in this day and age, can someone end up in this predicament?”. With the birth of the internet and social media and a 24/7 lifestyle how is it possible for someone to be lonely? Little did I know!

Like many, I forgot about the news item and went about my life and work. I was working on a project to introduce CSR days in our business, Carley Consult Ltd. We wanted to actively encourage staff to take part in two days paid volunteering a year. Being one of the managers that helped instigate it, I had to put my money where my mouth was and volunteer myself! We received a list of charities and b:Friend was on there! I felt like it was fate!! And to cut a long story short, I met up with the charity, they introduced me to Dilys and I’ve (we’ve) never looked back.

I can’t deny I wasn’t nervous. The thought of meeting someone I didn’t know and striking up a conversation suddenly seemed like a huge challenge. Questions raced through my head too:

Would she like me?
Would I like her?
What would we talk about?

Mike, from b:Friend, came with me though for the first two sessions, but he needn’t have. It was soon clear that, despite the 55-year age gap, Dilys and I were going to be firm friends.

18 months later and Dilys and I are still great friends and she often comments about what a difference I have made to her life. Dilys has said our little trip to a coffee shop once gave her such a sense of freedom she rarely has nowadays. I feel so humble that having a cuppa tea and a chat can make such a difference to someone’s life and it’s me that’s doing that!

I almost feel a sense of guilt too, that something so little and insignificant such as having a drink and a chat, should make such a difference. It just shouldn’t. In my mind, no one should experience such extreme loneliness where it does make a difference.

I can give Dilys something to look forward to every week and break up the
monotony of her routine. I can bring a new sense of perspective to her life whilst putting the world to rights with the many things we do have in common. All by having a coffee and a chat!

I can’t articulate the feeling this gives me other than it’s a mixture of pride, self-worth and I’m humble in the knowledge knowing that I am making a difference to someone.
Family and friends have commented on how proud they are of me for volunteering. I don’t feel proud because I get as much out of volunteering as I give. It works both ways you know! The smile I get when Dilys opens the door to me is priceless.

There are times when I feel that life is too busy, and I don’t have time to visit Dilys. Then I realise that that one hour a week is everything to Dilys. I get to come home to family, play with my little boy, go out and do things. Dilys can’t do that. So, who am I to say I’m too busy? I’m not. I just prioritise what is important in my life and that one hour I give a week to make someone happy and less lonely is one of my main priorities in life because, god forgive, it might be me in 55 years’ time who is chronically lonely and in need of a friend.

If any of what I have said resonates with you then, please, find an hour a week, because I promise you the difference you will make will have an enormous impact in more ways than you can ever know.

If you’d like to become a befriender, like Vicky, please get in touch via email or apply online.

Privacy policy

This privacy policy sets out how b:Friend uses and protects any information that you give to us, as well as when you use our website.

B:Friend may update this policy. You should check this page from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes. This policy is effective from 15.05.18.

B:Friend is a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and our registration number is: 1171148.

We comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. All electronic communications are made in accordance with The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.

B:Friend is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Should we ask you to provide certain information by which you can be identified when using our website, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement.

Collecting information

We collect the personal data that you volunteer as part of booking on events/workshops/projects, signing up for e-newsletters, attending sessions as a participant, becoming a volunteer, member or trustee, engaging in fundraising activity or making a donation. Personal information that we collect may include:

• Your full name, title and date of birth / age range

• Your postal address, e-mail address and phone number

• Current interests as volunteered by you

• Diversity monitoring information as volunteered by you

We will also collect and hold information about any contact you have with us as a visitor, participant, donor or supporter of b:Friend. This is so that we can track attendance, communicate with you during your engagement in a project, evaluate the impact of our work and report back to the organisations that fund our programmes. We may also use this information to improve our programmes, products and services.

Ways we collect information might include:

• Ticket purchases/booking and event/workshop/project attendance

• Volunteer hours

• Retail purchases

• Gallery visits

• Contact preferences

• Gift/donation information, including payment details where applicable

• Gift Aid status

• Details of correspondence sent to you, or received from you

• Donor status

• Diversity monitoring information

• Any other information provided by you at the request of b:Friend

We may also use profiling and screening techniques to analyse your personal data and create a profile of your interests and preferences. We will do this in a transparent and legitimate way and will communicate what we are doing, ensuring that you have the opportunity to opt out. Gathering information in this way might make use of additional information about you, including where you live, your age (or other demographic information) and other information and measures of wealth, when it is available from external sources such as public registers, online (including Companies House, the Charity Commission, LinkedIn or records that you have made public on social media) or the electoral roll. We may use third party suppliers to undertake these activities on our behalf. This helps us understand a bit more about the people who support us or might support us, so that we can make appropriate requests to those who may be able and willing to give, enabling us to raise funds to support our charitable work sooner and in a more tailored way than we otherwise would.

When we ask you to provide your personal information, we will let you know why we are asking and how we will use your data, by directing you towards this notice.

Where we are approaching potential corporate or Trust partners, we will follow a Legitimate Interest Assessment to ensure we have legitimate reason to contact an individual, that any direct contact is in a professional context, that the individual concerned knows that we are processing their data and for what purpose, and that they have the option to opt out of further communications if they wish.


Depending on your relationship with b:Friend, and the preferences you have indicated, data we hold may be used by us for the following purposes:

• To send you promotional, marketing or fundraising information by post, telephone or electronic means

• To inform you of other products, services or events related to b:Friend, such as exhibitions, events, volunteering opportunities, or retail offers.

• News and updates about b:Friend and marketing or supporter e-newsletters

• Information on our fundraising operations, including occasional targeted requests to consider giving financial support to b:Friend, or to ask you to consider supporting us in other ways

• Other relevant communications based upon your relationship with b:Friend, including direct contact during a project that you are participating in

Holding data

We understand that your personal information and privacy are important to you. We make every effort to ensure that the information you share with us is recorded accurately, retained securely and used only according to your wishes. We protect your personal information and adhere to all current data protection act legislation with respect to protecting privacy. We do not give out, sell or trade our mailing list data with third parties. The information you provide will be used primarily to protect your purchases and attendance at events and also keep you informed about the activities of b:Friend. The information we share with funders is always anonymous and enables us to demonstrate the impacts of our work and the difference that the funding has made.

We will hold personal data on our internal systems for a maximum of 5 years before contacting you to check that you are still happy for us to keep your data for the original reasons that you identified. Automatic database cleansing will also take place through MailChimp’s management of our e-communications system. MailChimp is the electronic system we use for storing and managing personal data of those wishing to receive e-newsletters from us.


You can sign up to e-communications (newsletter emails) on our website, by e-mailing us or by completing a postcard/form to keep you in touch with news, events, fundraising activity and current opportunities. You can opt out of receiving information at any time by following the unsubscribe link at the bottom of an email you have received from us, by emailing or telephone 07523 698530.

If you are booking onto an event over the telephone, we will ask you for your consent to keep the data you give on our internal systems for monitoring. We will also ask you whether you would like to opt in to receive our newsletter by e-mail to keep you in touch with news, events, fundraising campaigns and current opportunities. We will follow this up with an e-mail to confirm your booking and to give you the opportunity to opt out of receiving the newsletter if necessary.

When you attend a b:Friend workshop, session or event, you may be asked to complete a registration form or asked for your contact details for a register. Information about opting in will be clearly stated at the top of the registration form and register. By completing the forms and registers, you are giving us permission to hold the personal information given for monitoring and reporting purposes. We may also contact you during that project for administrative reasons e.g. to provide specific information about the project – change of time/venue or a session cancellation.

Market research

From time to time, we may also use your information to contact you for market research purposes. We may contact you by email, phone, or post. We may use the information to customise the website and our programmes according to your interests.


We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure. In order to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure, we have put in place suitable physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online.

How we use cookies

A cookie is a small file which asks permission to be placed on your computer’s hard drive. Once you agree, the file is added and the cookie helps analyse web traffic or lets you know when you visit a particular site. Cookies allow web applications to respond to you as an individual. The web application can tailor its operations to your needs, likes and dislikes by gathering and remembering information about your preferences.

We use traffic log cookies to identify which pages are being used. This helps us analyse data about web page traffic and improve our website in order to tailor it to customer needs. We use Google Analytics to do this. We only use this information for statistical analysis purposes and then the data is removed from the system.

Overall, cookies help us provide you with a better website, by enabling us to monitor which pages you find useful and which you do not. A cookie in no way gives us access to your computer or any information about you, other than the data you choose to share with us.

You can choose to accept or decline cookies. Most web browsers automatically accept cookies, but you can usually modify your browser setting to decline cookies if you prefer. This may prevent you from taking full advantage of the website.

Links to other websites

Our website may contain links to other websites of interest. However, once you have used these links to leave our site, you should note that we do not have any control over that other website. Therefore, we cannot be responsible for the protection and privacy of any information which you provide whilst visiting such sites and such sites are not governed by this privacy statement. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.

Controlling your personal information

You may choose to restrict the collection or use of your personal information in the following ways:

• Whenever you are asked to fill in a form on the website, look for the box that you can click to indicate that you do not want the information to be used by anybody for direct marketing purposes

• If you have previously agreed to us using your personal information for direct marketing purposes, you may change your mind at any time by writing to or emailing us at

• We will not sell, distribute or lease your personal information to third parties unless we have your permission or are required by law to do so. We may use your personal information to send you relevant promotional information about third parties which we think you may find interesting.

You may request details of personal information which we hold about you under the Data Protection Act 1998. A small fee will be payable. If you would like a copy of the information held on you please email or call 07523 698530.

If you believe that any information we are holding on you is incorrect or incomplete, please write to or email us as soon as possible, at the above address. We will promptly correct any information found to be incorrect.

The data controller and data protection officer for b:Friend is Mike Niles – 07523 698530. If you are unhappy with the way that we have handled your data, do contact us to discuss how we could improve our processes. If you still have a concern about our information rights practices, you are entitled to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on 0303 123 1113 or via their website