This project was funded by the SFC Innovation Voucher Scheme. UHI Division of Rural Health and Wellbeing worked with Befrienders Highland to understand the impacts of befriending through various mechanisms such as face-to-face, email, letter and telephone.
One of the key objectives of the project was to explore the benefits of face-to-face versus distance befriending and examine how the distance befriending service could be continued, adapted and/or extended into the future. This was achieved by carrying out an exploratory data analysis on existing BHL impact questionnaire data. The analysis showed that there is no significant difference in the levels of benefit experienced between those using face-to-face and those using distance befriending methods (both methods generate positive impacts). Along with some qualitative data collection and analysis, this showed us that the key is getting the right method, and the right volunteer, to suit individual’s needs and lifestyle. It was suggested that distance befriending can benefit those in more urban areas such as Inverness, not just remote and rural areas. Some recommendations for how to monitor and measure benefits to friends and volunteers in the future were given. A final report was written for BHL. This was presented at a key stakeholder’s workshop at the Centre for Health Science.