Having a close family member go to prison is terrifying and traumatic. Having support and someone to talk to who knows the prison experience and what families are going through makes all the difference.

- Comment from a befriendee 

Would you like someone to talk to about having a loved one in prison? We have a dedicated team of trained volunteer befrienders who can offer sympathetic, reliable, non-judgemental support. 

What is befriending?

Befriending is the formation of a trusting, encouraging and beneficial relationship, developed and maintained consistently over a period of time, whereby the befriender offers appropriate emotional and practical support and guidance to the befriendee, closely monitored by an agency.

What does Pact's befriending service offer?

  • A telephone call once a week at a time convenient to both the befriender (a trained Pact volunteer) and the befriendee (the service user receiving support).
  • Support and guidance to help understand the impact of imprisonment on individuals and their loved ones.
  • A non-judgmental ear.
  • Someone who is able to further signpost and offer referrals to other agencies that may be able to offer additional support.

How does it work?

The befriender (a trained Pact volunteer) will contact their befriendee (the service user receiving support) within a week of getting a referral. They will make initial contact and arrange a time and place that is convenient for you both for the first session.

Each session should last approximately 30-60 minutes (although this is flexible) and you should have a minimum of one session each week. It is likely that for the first week you will have two calls: the initial contact and a more structured session. Support will be offered for 8 - 10 weeks (on average) and will be constantly reviewed to make sure that it is still beneficial and needed. 

It was such a relief to talk to people in the same situation who didn't judge; just to be able to escape.  The staff are always very helpful and help me with any information that I may need.  

I am really grateful that such an organisation is there to help people like myself.

- Comment from a befriendee

What training and checks will befriending volunteers have?

In order to become a befriender, volunteers will be fully DBS checked and will have completed the following training:

  • Befriending training
  • Safeguarding training
  • Professional boundaries training
  • Reference checks.

I thoroughly enjoy being a befriender to someone who has a loved one in prison. It is a very difficult situation to find yourself in and, given my prison experience and Pact training over the years, I think it definitely helps them understand this complex world and to know that they are not alone.

- Comment from a befriender

If you have a friend or family member in prison and would like to find out more about our Befriending service, please email us on [email protected].