Two’s Company Befriending (Linking Lives UK)
Linking Lives UK is a national Christian charity which has been working with churches to establish befriending projects to address social isolation since 2012. Prior to the pandemic it primarily focussed on establishing home visiting schemes: it had more than 32 projects operating across the country that offered service users experiencing, or at risk of, loneliness a weekly visit for an hour or two. The pandemic accelerated plans to develop an alternative to the home visiting scheme and Two’s Company – a telephone befriending model – was born.
What happened during Covid-19?
Linking Lives now operates more than 40 telephone befriending projects across the country in addition to the existing home visiting schemes. Telephone befriending has
proved extremely popular. It has attracted new volunteers who prefer the reduced regular time or travel commitment while still seeing the benefits of regular contact.
The activity and efforts of these and existing befriending schemes led to more than 1,000 referrals to local Linking Lives services across the UK, with a similar number receiving regular
telephone calls as of the end of March 2021. While the public was showing increased awareness of issues relating to loneliness before the pandemic, this has heightened in the past 12 months, enabling the charity to raise the profile of its work. Linking Lives plans to enable all projects to operate either a home visiting or telephone model, or to offer a combination of both.