The Befriending Alliance is a new initiative funded by the North Somerset Council Health & Wellbeing Fund and One Weston Integrated Care Partnership. The purpose of the Alliance is to build and develop capacity in befriending schemes across North Somerset. Although there are several support groups and peer support schemes in North Somerset, there are limited one-to-one befriending services.

VANS propose to develop a Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) Befriending Services Alliance and build on existing befriending provision to meet increased need for befrienders within the community. A number of formal and informal person-centred buddying, coaching, and mentoring services do exist across North Somerset; however, there is limited one-to-one ‘befriending’ provision on offer. Various groups supported, range from older people feeling isolated, visually impaired, younger adults with social anxiety, children and young people with additional needs and adults accessing low-level skills interventions linked to employability.

A Befriending Alliance will build on this limited offer by bringing together existing providers and working with VCFSE’s to identify gaps to inform future commissioning decisions and enabling funding for organisations to meet changing demands within the community. Under VANS leadership and direction, the programme will create a legacy for future provision.

VANS will be the accountable body for the programme, manage the programme coordinator and the operation of The Befriending Alliance. Each befriending delivery partner is an independent organisation in its own right; they are responsible for their own service provision within the framework of the Alliance.  VANS will be responsible for financial governance, reporting back to health partners and also ensuring that the Alliance meets the agreed outcomes.