Befriending Week 2020 – Margaret’s story


Margaret is a volunteer with Aberlour’s Sustain service in Perth and Kinross. In January 2020, Margaret was matched as a Befriender for a Mum with young children and would meet weekly:

“I met with my Befriendee weekly for 2.5 hours, and we had coffee, followed by a walk or trip to the supermarket. On several occasions, her toddler would join us and I would play with him and his toys whilst chatting.”

Befriending service Aberlour

When lockdown was imposed due to COVID-19, however, Margaret and her Befriendee were unable to meet in person. Instead, they relied on phone calls to keep their befriending relationship going:

“Lockdown prevented meeting in person so contact was via a weekly telephone call for approximately an hour every week. On a few occasions, I would also drive the short distance to my Befriendee’s house and drop off a couple of essential food items on her doorstep. When restrictions eased we moved to a socially distanced chat in the garden every week and her toddler joined us.”

Volunteering in a pandemic presented its challenges. However, Margaret remained consistent and committed to supporting her Befriendee, adapting to their new remote relationship:

“The most challenging part of volunteering in lockdown was not physically being able to meet up and having the routine of enjoying an activity together. However, in the absence of distractions, we managed to have longer and more meaningful conversations and I learned a lot about her upbringing which she was keen to talk about.”

Having built a strong and trusting relationship together, Margaret has provided invaluable support to her Befriendee during a potentially lonely and isolating time:

“My Befriendee has a very limited social life and spends most of her time with her children. I have become the ‘friend’ that she sees every week and we have developed a good relationship where she is comfortable to open up to me. I believe my Befriendee benefits from the fact that I am older with grown-up kids and have experience of the challenges that parenting young children brings. I understand the complexities of family life so can relate to her and support her whilst having a good laugh together!”

“Volunteering right through COVID-19 has strengthened our friendship and we have bonded through the issues and difficulties lockdown brought. I also felt a greater sense of satisfaction and value in my volunteer role during lockdown and I was glad to be part of the overall COVID effort. I felt valued that my Befriendee came to rely on my weekly call and that I was actively providing support.”

Aberlour befriending service woman talking online

Shelley Brown, Assistant Service Manager of the Sustain service, highlights the impact Margaret has had on her Befriendee:

“Margaret continues to go above and beyond within her befriending role, and has adapted her support to ensure this continues through what has been a challenging time for all, but particularly vulnerable families who at times can be very isolated. Recently Margaret supported her Befriendee to attend an important meeting on behalf of her children, which she otherwise may have missed. Margaret recognised how important it was for the parent to ensure she could attend and have her voice heard. This is a testament to Margaret’s commitment, passion, and understanding of the importance of her role. We at Sustain are extremely grateful for Margaret’s contribution to support within our service”.