With Bute having one of the highest elderly populations in Scotland, and coupled with the additional challenges of rural communities, Cowal Befrienders were asked in 2013 by the Bute and Cowal Reshaping Care for Older People (RCOP) locality group to research, scope and evaluate the potential need for a Befriending or Social Contact Initiative on Bute. Our research found that although there was a great sense of community throughout the island and some fantastic local groups which older people can attend, there was a lack of services for the frail older population who find it hard to access the community (or even transport) without assistance, and loneliness and isolation was reported as a problem for older people by professionals within both Statutory and Voluntary organisations.
In April 2014 we were awarded funding through the RCOP 'Change Fund' to establish a Befriending project on Bute. Bute Elderly Befrienders is a forward-thinking befriending project which puts our clients firmly at the centre of what we do. Our experience of running a befriending project in Cowal has led us to develop a model which embraces both 1-2-1 and Peer Befriending (facilitating clients to create and maintain their own relationships within their peer group).
Our range of services developed from listening to clients and trying to meet the needs expressed and we continue to work in this way, constantly reviewing and evaluating the services we offer.
Bute Befrienders employs an Outreach Worker to co-ordinate and facilitate all of our services, and we have a wheelchair-accessible minibus which is used to provide our Out & About and other Peer Befriending services.
Investing in staff and volunteer training is important to us, and we pride ourselves in pioneering new ways of working, based on current Health and Social Care research. We believe that all older people in Scotland, whatever their circumstances, have a right to live independently and with a high quality of life in the communities they helped create.
Meet Our Team
Robin has responsibility for the day-to-day management of our projects in both Cowal and Bute. He has developed a considerable knowledge of working within the Voluntary Sector and is passionate about ensuring that older people in Scotland receive the support required to live indepently and with a high quality of life.
Robin is an advocate of co-production and is always looking for ways to evolve and grow our services.
Information & Admin Officer
Wendy joined us in January 2014, bringing with her a sound knowledge of working within the Voluntary Sector. She has a developed a great working relationship with both the Public Sector and other voluntary organisations.
Wendy is tasked with overseeing the administration, monitoring and evaluation of Bute Befrienders and will become a familiar face across Bute in the coming months!
Pieter Van der Werf
Outreach Worker and Service Manager
Pieter is responsible for co-ordinating and running client activities on Bute. As well as facilitating group activities, he will also provide a 1-2-1 service to clients (where requested) until a volunteer befriender can be found.
Note: Currently (10 March 2020) and until further notice, due to the outbreak of Covid-19 the service offers telephone support only.
Pieter is a natural 'people person'. He has worked on a variety of community projects, and is aware of the challenges involved in providing services across rural and remote-rural areas. All new clients referred to Bute Befrienders will receive an initial Assessment visit from Pieter.