Asha began a Befriending project in April 2018 as part of it’s outreach services to men, women and families seeking asylum. For many that is a long and difficult process, however being befriended by someone from the local community can play a pivotal role in this journey.

We are looking for a team of volunteers to offer consistent, compassionate support and encouragement through listening, conversational English, signposting to other services and offering informal orientation to Stoke-on-Trent.

Befriending seeks to alleviate social isolation and to increase a person’s well-being through regular contact. All volunteer befrienders will be given training and ongoing support for the role. Every befriending relationship is unique as the needs will vary, as will the personalities and gifts of those involved. Almost invariably, the relationship is mutually rewarding and beneficial.

In general terms befriending may include:

•Welcome and friendship

•Listening and support

•Helping with conversational English

•Helping to find services e.g. shops, facilities, places of worship. Attending appointments e.g. hospital, appeal hearing

•Taking action if appropriate e.g. phoning a housing provider about a repair job especially if the befriendee has limited English or no phone credit

One of our befriended asylum seekers described befriending as follows:

Befrienders are excellent at providing the invisible things like just showing you round, being a friend, providing company, giving you a feeling of normal life.