The No1 Befriending Agency – Audrey Mutongi

The Befriending Agency provides companionship and compassionate support to isolated and elderly clients in the wider Glasgow/ West Dunbartonshire area.

The service aims to give patients choice and control over their care, giving them a greater level of independence and confidence as a result.

Initially they provided one to one friendship and companionship to elderly people being released from hospitals with no family support at home, and those most isolated from society. Referrals came from both local councils and care sectors.

The Befriending Agency has made a significant impact on the lives of 115 people befriended in their first year with over 80% now feeling less isolated in their own community, while also training and supporting over 40 volunteers with befriending and counselling skills and an ability to engage with elderly people through “tea and a blether”.

Through provision of one to one befriending at a client’s home, or by accompanying clients to appointments or social activities, many elderly people and older adults now have a more positive outlook, free of isolation and loneliness.

The Befriending Agency now offers additional support including home help and assistance in getting to appointments, including overnight support to help with diet and medication.
Audrey and her Befrienders also identified a need to bring clients together and now offer regular lunches with entertainment to stimulate activity and encourage those previously isolated and home bound to leave their homes to “join in”.

They now want to extend the service throughout Scotland and expand to offer supported social housing and befriending workshops for carers.

Audrey said:

I'd always wanted to start a business that is meaningful to both me and to my clients. We aim to create a culture of friendship in communities. We hope that our ‘cup-of-tea’ approach to befriending will develop a movement of people in communities who ‘catch’ the befriending bug and the enjoyment they get from becoming a friend and reducing isolation becomes second nature to them thereby enriching both themselves and their neighbourhoods.

Getting on LaunchMe will help us to extend the service to five cities in Scotland and open the No1 Social Housing Agency, a half-way house that clients can come to after they leave the hospital which offers a package of social support and activities until clients are ready to return to their own homes.”

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