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Mental Health Befriending Service

The Mental Health Befriending service was set up to meet the needs of people with long-term mental health problems, whose illness has led to them becoming socially isolated.

The service recruits, trains and matches individual volunteers with clients who have mental health problems and helps them to provide regular, community-based support, companionship and encouragement. This helps clients to become more independent, to develop confidence and to overcome social isolation.

Befrienders can make a real difference by regular meetings in a one-to-one partnership.  They can share interests and activities whilst doing ordinary things like going for a coffee and having a chat.

All volunteer befrienders attend an initial training course that covers mental health awareness, confidentiality issues, boundaries, listening skills and support.

As of 6 April 2015 Befriending Partnerships will have a cost of £18.40 per session, which can come out of an Individual Personal Budget or be self financed.


Volunteers have an opportunity to acquire new skills, broaden their experience, have fun, meet new people and make a real difference to someone’s life.

So if you have some spare time and would like to make a difference to someone’s life you can apply by downloading, filling in and returning the application form to the contact below.

Volunteers from all backgrounds are welcome to apply to become befrienders. You need to be over 18, have a mature outlook and be open-minded about mental health problems. You must want to be supportive, be willing to listen and be prepared to make a commitment.

Partnerships are usually for about an hour a week and last for a maximum of 12 months.

We need two character references and you will need to complete an enhanced DBS (CRB) which has no charge to volunteers.

Volunteer Information Pack

The Mental Health Befriending Service mainly operates within Norwich and the surrounding areas but there are plans in place to expand the service around the county.


A referral to this service must come through a health care professional such as: your care coordinator, GP, Counsellor etc.

There is a fee of £18.40 per session, payable through your personal budget or own finances via a monthly invoice.

All volunteers are DBS checked and have appropriate training.

The coordinator keeps in contact with you and your volunteer periodically so if there are any problems, this can be resolved. If you decide to dissolve the partnership, you will be added back on the list.

Health Care Professionals

The Mental Health Befriending Service matches volunteers with clients to reduce loneliness and social isolation, increase self esteem and community engagement.

One of the challenges of this service is matching the right volunteer with the right client. Sometimes clients have to wait for a while, other times (if there is a suitable volunteer) the partnership happens immediately after client assessment.

If you feel this service is suitable for a client and would like to discuss needs, contact the Mental Health Befriending Service Coordinator.

Just Text Giving        

Support the Mental Health Befriending Service by giving via your mobile phone - Text MHBS07 £5 to 70070 (other amounts can be donated)


Natalie Hickman, Mental Health Befriending Service Coordinator

Merchants Place, 16 Church Street, Cromer, Norfolk, NR27 9ES

01263 519454


Voluntary Norfolk is grateful for the assistance of the John Jarrold Trust in support of this project.

“Thanks so much for getting me such a great placement and so quickly. I really appreciate it! I hope the service continues to flourish as you're doing such great work and I can see that it really makes a difference to my client, which is lovely.”
MHBS volunteer