Sands 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 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 You can, of course, continue to access support for as long as you need it. 


Before you apply

Before you apply to complete Sands Befriender 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 virtual support meetings). This is so 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

Become a Befriender

Once you have decided that befriending is right for you, and you meet the criteria above, you are ready to apply for befriender training. To begin we ask that you take time to read the Introduction to Befriending and then complete an application form. Once this has been received your form will be checked, we will contact your referees and then we will arrange an interview phone call with the Bereavement Support Services team. 

The application form will ask you questions about yourself so we can better understand if you are ready to be a befriender. 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 

The application form will ask for two references, and these will need to be satisfactory before you start befriending. 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. 

If applicable, during the pre-course period we contact your local Group or Sands United team to seek confirmation you have attended their support meetings/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.


After the course

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 other bereaved families and possibly reconsider befriending at another time. 

Once you have successfully completed the course and we have agreed you are ready to befriend, with satisfactory references, we will let the relevant people know that you are now ready to start befriending with them on a trial basis.  

All befrienders need to 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 boundaries, ensuring your own self-care and taking ongoing training to top-up your skills. 

Our Bereavement Support Team runs regular check-ins for you to discuss your experiences, identify any additional training needs, and connect with other befrienders to support you in your journey. 


Sands Befriender Training

"I didn't realise how much support I would get from the rest of the group and Sands."

Our course

The befriender training course enables participants to develop their befriending skills. They 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. 

Because of the current coronavirus restrictions, befriender training will be taking place online.  You will need to attend 6 separate online sessions lasting approximately 90 minutes 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. 

"The training has given me the courage and confidence to befriend."


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



We are currently only focussed on online training. Once the government restrictions are relaxed, we will look at when we might reintroduce a face-to-face element to our training.  

For more information, please contact


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