Volunteer as a telephone befriender
Just 30 minutes of your time a week could make a massive difference to an older person's life. If you're empathetic and good at talking on the phone, you could be a Telephone Friendship Service volunteer.
What is telephone friendship?
As people get older, some may find they spend more time on their own. This can sometimes feel lonely, boring or make people miss friends or family.
We offer free telephone friendship services for older people so they can enjoy chatting with someone over the phone, all from the comfort of your their home.
One of our services matches volunteers with older members of the public to have a weekly 30-minute chat together.
As a volunteer, you'd befriend someone who's 60 or over. It's a fun, safe, easy way to get to know someone new from the comfort of your own home. Lots of people tell us the chats are the highlight of their week.
If you'd like to make a difference to an older person's life, read through the rest of this page and see if it's the right opportunity for you.
What's great about becoming a telephone friend?
- It's a free, simple way to give something back through a weekly call to an older person.
- Our dedicated team will match you with someone who has shared interests.
- Your calls can make a huge difference to the happiness and wellbeing of an older person.
- We protect the safety of all volunteers and members by automatically connecting them with their telephone friend, which means no personal telephone numbers need to be exchanged.
How does it work?
- You sign up and start your volunteer application online. This involves completing references, online training, passing an ID check and having an interview with our team.
- We match you with a suitable older person based on your interests.
- Age UK will then connect you with your telephone friend to begin your weekly calls.
What's expected of me?
We're looking for people who have excellent listening skills and enjoy a good phone call. You'll need to be able to show your telephone friend respect, patience, empathy and understanding. This is what we'd also expect from you:
- Making time for a 30-minute call on the same day and time each week.
- A commitment to volunteering with us for a minimum of one year.
- Agreeing to our volunteer terms and conditions.
- Being kind and respectful to your telephone friend.
- Letting us know if you or your telephone friend need any support.
Become a Telephone Friendship volunteer
If you're happy with everything that being a volunteer involves, we'd love to hear from you.
Frequently asked questions
What training do I need?
We will provide you with online training before you make your first call. This will include how you make your call, listening skills, staying safe, and ideas on what to talk about. We're also here to support you every step of the way.
Who will I be matched with?
You'll be matched with a telephone friend aged over 60 who would benefit from a telephone friendship.
Loneliness can affect people in very different ways and it's really important to remember that even if your telephone friend has family and friends or is able to get out and about, they may still have times when they may feel lonely or are in need of friendship.
Our service offers older people a chance to share their stories, make a new friend and connect with someone outside their usual social circle.
What if my telephone friend needs some assistance?
You can give your telephone friend the Freephone number of the Age UK Advice Line (0800 678 1602).
The advice line is open from 8am – 7pm, seven days a week (including public holidays) to older people and their families to get information across a range of subjects which affect older people.
Through the advice line and our local Age UKs, we're able to help older people access advice, support and other local services.
After your call, you'll get an email asking you how the call went. You can use this to let us know if your telephone friend would like any additional support.
If you have any immediate concerns that your telephone friend is at risk of abuse or there is any risk to their wellbeing or safety, you should contact the Call in Time team immediately on 0800 434 6105.
What if I'm unable to make my call because I'm ill?
If you can't make your call then please let us know. We can try and arrange for you to make the call at another time that week.
If you don't let us know, then your telephone friend will be left waiting for your call.
If you repeatedly don't make calls without making us aware or frequently cancel calls, we may need to end your volunteering, as it's important your telephone friend gets a regular call.
What if my friend doesn't answer when I call?
They might not be answering because they're having phone problems, or had a last-minute appointment and haven't had time to tell us.
We advise that you wait five minutes if you can, and try calling them again. If they still don't answer, you might want to try another time to call them.
What if I don't get on with my friend or we have nothing in common?
Sometimes it may take time to build a relationship with your telephone friend. You will have been matched on your shared interests, so we would always recommend having a few calls before making a judgment.
If you're really struggling then please let us know and we'll talk you through the options available.
How is my telephone number kept anonymous?
Our computer automatically connects you with your telephone friend so you do not need to give out your personal phone number.
As a telephone befriending service, the safety of everyone involved is our number one priority.
To make the service safe for everyone, we insist that you don't arrange to visit your telephone friend or exchange any personal contact details with them, including social media accounts.
How long will it be before I am calling my telephone friend?
Waiting times to start your calls can vary. It all depends on how quickly we're able to process your references and when you complete your induction, identity check and interview. Once you've fully completed your application, we will find you a match as soon as we can, but this may take a few weeks.
This telephone friendship service is winner of
- British Interactive Media Awards (BIMA) for ‘Product & Service Design: Conscience’ and the best in category award for ‘Advance Award for Conscience’
- Third Sector Award for 'Breakthrough of the Year'
- UXUK Awards for Best Innovation
Would you like to receive a friendly, weekly call?
If you're over 60 and interested in telephone friendship, you can sign up on our website.