Become a befriender

Have you recovered from an eating disorder, and would like to help someone else on their path to recovery? Why not volunteer to become a Talk ED befriender?

Befriending is a voluntary, mutually beneficial relationship in which a befriender gives time to support and encourage someone. It differs from a friendship because the befriender is trained to offer a form of guided support as well as enabling the befriendee to find help with some of their feelings; often fear, anxiety, stress. Befriending helps them to feel less alone and isolated and encourages them make small positive changes towards recovery, including eating well again.

If you are over 21 years of age, fully recovered from an eating disorder (and have maintained that recovery for two years or more) and you’d like to to turn your experience into something positive to help others along their path to recovery, why not consider volunteering as a befriender?

How befriending works

When you are trying to recover from an eating disorder it’s often hard to believe that you will ever get through it. The negative feelings and disordered thought patterns are difficult to challenge, and you might feel that they will always be there. Whilst support from family and friends is an important part of recovery, sometimes it can feel difficult to share the challenges you’re experiencing with those close to you. Does this sounds familiar? At times like this it can be really helpful to be able to talk to someone who truly knows what it’s like to be working towards recovery.

As a befriender, we would connect you with someone who is struggling to overcome an eating disorder so that a supportive relationship can form to help them along their journey to recovery.  Following introductions, and both you and the befriendee being happy to go ahead with the match, you’d speak to your befriendee at an agreed regular time each week, for six months. Once the befriending relationship has started, you will work with your befriendee towards some goals using the ‘Mental Health Recovery Star’ framework (training will be provided) to measure their progress over time.

The befriending service is designed for people in the earlier stages of an eating disorder, who are ready to actively work on recovery, or those who may have struggled for longer but have engaged with professional treatment and are now emerging into a new, postitive phase.  To be eligible to be matched with a befriender, befriendees must have a BMI of 17 or above. This is to safeguard both parties as the ability to rationalise thoughts, or challenge eating disorder behaviours is more difficult due to the body being underweight.

Why do we ask that you have been recovered for two years?

We have a duty of care to all of our valued volunteers and we need to ensure that you are well enough to support someone without damaging your own recovery or putting a befriendee at risk.

Please do be honest about your own recovery when you apply. Applications will be followed up with a telephone chat with our befriending co-ordinator.  If we don’t feel that becoming a befriender would be right for you at the moment we may ask you to wait a while before applying to us again. We do this for safeguarding reasons for both Talk ED and yourself.

Befriending is not a counselling service or therapy, and you would not be acting in a professional capacity. As a Talk ED befriender you would support someone’s journey through weekly telephone calls over six months, by:

  • actively listening, and offering real hope and encouragement from a place of empathy and understanding
  • providing practical guidance and coping strategies to help them manage fear and anxieties related to food and eating
  • helping them to make small, positive changes towards recovery, including eating well again

I’m interested, what’s next?

If you would like to apply to volunteer as a befriender, please complete our application form to tell us about yourself and your recovery. When we receive your application, our befriending co-ordinator will arrange a chat with you over the phone, to tell you more about the service.

Following the chat, if you are happy to proceed, you will be invited to a training session (half a day via Zoom with some materials to read before the session) which will cover everything you need to know about being a befriender.  This will include small group exercises, discussions, how to use the ‘Mental Health Recovery Star’ framework, and a Q&A with an experienced befriender.

Our next training date is Saturday 1st October 2022, 10am-1pm.

The final stage is for us to carry out a DBS check and request two references.  Once all of this is complete, we will aim to match you with a befriendee as soon as we can.

Apply to volunteer as a befriender

Please click the button below to complete the application form. When we receive your application, our befriending co-ordinator will arrange a chat with you over the phone, to tell you more about the service. If you have any questions before you apply, please get in touch.

Q&A with a Talk ED Befriender

Sarah’s Story: How befriending helped me during my recovery from bulimia

Are you worried that you, or a loved one may have an eating disorder? Our Peer Support Team have lived experiences of eating disorders and recovery.

To talk to someone who understands, book a 1:1 support call, we’re here to help.

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