Thank you so much for your interest in becoming a Sands Befriender. Our 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 can be an emotionally demanding role, and both you and we need to be sure you are ready to take it on and have suitable support for yourself. If befriending isn’t right for you at this time, that’s ok. There are many ways you can get involved and support the work of Sands. To find out more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can, of course, continue to access support for as long as you need it.
Before you apply
Before you apply to become a Sands Befriender and to attend the 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 these first anniversaries would affect them until they happened.
- To ensure you understand the role of a befriender, we ask that you have attended at least four recent support meetings (this can include online support meetings). This is so that you can get a sense of what being a befriender involves. Find a local group here or find out about our online support meetings here.
Becoming a befriender
Introduction to Befriending
Once you have decided that befriending is right for you, and you meet the criteria above, you are ready to apply to become a befriender and to attend the training. To begin, please take the time to read the Introduction to Befriending, which will give you a clearer idea about what the role involves. The skills of a good befriender include:
- 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
If you meet the above criteria, have the skills outlined above, and you've read the Introduction to Befriending, you can then complete an application form. The application form will ask you questions about yourself so we can better understand if you are ready to be a befriender.
We ask for two references, and these will need to be satisfactory before you are booked onto the training. The referee can be 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. When we receive your form, we will contact your two referees, check that you've met the criteria, and then we will arrange an interview phone call with the Bereavement Support Services team.
If applicable, during the pre-course period we will contact your local Group or Sands United team to seek confirmation that you have attended their support meetings or Sands United events. 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.
Sands Befriender Training
"I didn't realise how much support I would get from the rest of the group and Sands."
The befriender training course enables participants to develop their befriending skills. You 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.
Currently, our befriender training is online via Zoom. You will need to attend 6 separate online sessions lasting approximately 2 hours each. These may be run over 6 weekday evenings, or over 2 days at a weekend.
On completion of the course, your trainers will assess if you are ready to begin befriending.
After the course
"The training has given me the courage and confidence to befriend."
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 ask how you are feeling about your readiness to befriend. 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 bereaved families and possibly reconsider befriending at another time.
Once you have successfully completed the training, and we have agreed you are ready to befriend, with satisfactory references, we will let you and the relevant people know that you are now ready to start befriending with them on a trial basis.
We ask that all our befrienders 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 your boundaries, ensuring your own self-care and taking ongoing training to top-up your skills.
Support for Sands Befrienders
Our befrienders are supported by the Bereavement Support Services Team who provide regular online catch ups for you to discuss your experiences, identify any additional training needs, and connect with other befrienders to support you in your journey. There are also a Befrienders' Facebook group, regular email updates from Sands and support from the wider Sands staff team.
Course details 2022
Our online training sessions will be run as cohorts and you must be able to attend all sessions within a cohort to complete the training.
2022 Befriender Training
Cohort 3: September & October. This will be over 6 Thursday evenings: 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th September, 6th and 13th October, 7-9pm.
Cohort 4: Saturday 12th & 19th November – 9.30am-4.30pm
You've read this far! Thank you. Please do now apply to become a Sands Befriender. If you have more questions before applying, please contact email@example.com.