UPDATE: 3rd September 2020

Following the Board of Directors meeting that took place today (3rd September) it has been agreed that our current suspension of all group activities and home visiting services will remain in place until the end of 2020. We will be working with our group leaders and volunteer befrienders in the coming months with the intention of seeing a resumption of these services early in 2021.

STILL OPERATING: our Phone Buddy Scheme is still operational and we welcome applications from any volunteers wishing to become Phone Buddies.

With effect from 1st January 2020 we now carry out DBS checks or a PVG Disclosure Check (for Scotland) on all befriending services volunteers....you can read more about the DBS Check process by downloading our DBS Factsheet(Click here to open/download)

We provide two national befriending services: the National Visitors Network (NVN) & Phone Buddy Scheme.

Supported by the Civil Service Insurance Society Charity Fund, the NVN is our home befriending service and one of our flagship charitable services. It offers companionship to any CSRF beneficiary (retired civil servant, partner or dependant) by way of a home visit.

Our Phone Buddy Scheme provides a little bit of company and friendly social contact plus it helps to reduce feelings of loneliness and increases motivation and confidence. This regular chat also provides a vital link into the community to those who can be socially isolated because of restricted mobility or lack of accessibility to public transport. Our volunteer buddies are able to provide a listening ear, confidential support, regular contact, conversation and signposting to other services that might be of interest.

Pictured above: Befriender Alex (right) during a visit to retired civil servant Jess

How does the NVN work?

The first visit is arranged through us with one of our trained volunteers, it’s a social call in the person’s own home; a chat over a cup of tea.  They then decide between the two of them how often they’d like the visits to take place.  They usually last around an hour each time. Our volunteers are not able to assist with domestic tasks, money or personal care, visits are purely for a social purpose to help relieve isolation and loneliness.

Pictured above: Befriender Katy (right) during a visit to retired civil servant Lillian

The service launched in March 2013 and is available throughout the country and has provided over 5,000 home visits since it started.

Working with our Partners

Since launching the remit of the NVN has evolved to include engagement with other partner organisations from within the public sector. We currently also welcome applications from volunteers and service users from the BT Benevolent Fund.

Pictured above: Befriender Louise (right) with retired civil servant Olive

Tackling a national issue
Age UK figures on the subject of loneliness show that half of all people aged 75 and over live alone, and 1 in 10 people aged 65 or over say they always or often feel lonely; that’s just over a million people. Shockingly, half of all the older people they surveyed consider the television their main form of company. The CSRF remains an active supporter of the Campaign to End Loneliness and is committed to help alleviate loneliness/social isolation for its beneficiaries.

Pictured above: Befriender Robert (left) during a visit to retired civil servant Betty


This service is provided entirely by volunteers who give their time generously. We are always looking for new volunteer befrienders to join the team so if you have some time we'd love to hear from you. The application process is simple and involves a registration form followed by telephone based training session to provide you with an introduction to befriending along with our expectations of volunteers. Ideally we expect volunteers to be able to commit to at least 6 months of regular visiting.

If you would like to receive a visit or call or volunteer to become a befriender you can give us a ring (all calls treated in strictest confidence) on 020 8691 7411 or email: [email protected]

Further Information: 

Fact Sheet on the Do's and Don'ts of being a Befriender