How to refer someone


What is the aim of the project?

  • To reduce social isolation amongst individuals with learning disabilities or on the autistic spectrum.

Our volunteer befrienders enable service users to enjoy leisure activities, encouraging choice and independence. 


Who is The Buddy Scheme for?

The Buddy Scheme is open to individuals aged 18 and over with a learning disability or on the autistic spectrum, living in the borough of Kingston.

We accept referrals from any professionals working with someone with a learning disability or on the autistic spectrum, any family members as well as self-referrals.

The Buddy Scheme will prioritise individuals who it is perceived will benefit most from the service: in particular, people who are isolated. This includes people who are reliant on carers to access social and leisure activities or who struggle to make friends.

Due to the nature of the project we regret that we are unable to support people with profound and complex disabilities. 


What do volunteers do?

Volunteers are matched to a service user and then the buddy pair meets up regularly to enjoy leisure activities together. This can be anything the service user enjoys, or would like to try, and popular trips include going for a coffee, walking in the park, watching films or taking part in sports activities. The amount of time the pair spends together depends on the leisure activity, and so may vary from outing to outing. 

The role of a volunteer is purely as a befriender. Volunteers are not carers, escorts, or support workers and are there to improve quality of life for the service user. 


How often do buddy pairs meet up?

Volunteers meet with their buddy at least once a month. This is the minimum we expect of volunteers though many have more time to give. The scheme is meant to be flexible to fit around the availability of both the volunteer and service-user.


How long does the befriending relationship last?

We ask volunteers for a commitment of a year. Many befriending relationships continue beyond a year, but it is important that service-users are aware that the volunteer may only be available for a year. (Care is taken to ensure that when befriending relationships come to an end, it is done so in a respectful and sensitive manner).


How do I refer someone?

To refer someone who you think will benefit from the project, please complete a referral form. Please complete the form in as much detail as possible, including any information you think may be relevant to a volunteer visiting the service-user. Please also ensure that the service-user is aware that you are making the referral

It is important that as the person referring you are able to be contacted about the referral and provide necessary information about the service-user. If you feel there may be someone more suitable, please ask them to make the referral.

If you wish to discuss a referral before completing a form (or at any time) please ring the project co-ordinator on 0208 255 8068 or email  


What happens after I make a referral?

Once a referral is received, the person referred is placed on the waiting list for a volunteer befriender. The Co-ordinator will be in contact to discuss any issues arising from the referral form and to arrange a visit to the service-user to find out more about them so an appropriate match can be made with a volunteer.


How long will the person have to wait for a volunteer?

This depends on the case’s priority, the number of new volunteers joining the project and how long it takes to find a suitable volunteer for a service-user (including availability, interests and any relevant experience a volunteer may need). Please be aware that there may be a long wait for a volunteer. 


What happens when a suitable volunteer is found?

The Project Co-ordinator will be in touch with the referrer and service-user to let them know that there is a suitable volunteer available (and ready to begin volunteering), and tell them a little about the person.

If the service-user is happy, then an introduction will be made. The Project Co-ordinator, you (as the person referring) or someone else who knows the service-user well, as well the volunteer and service-user will be present.

The aim of the introduction is for the volunteer and service-user to get to know each-other briefly, and make arrangements for their first independent outing (if both are happy to).

As part of the support offered to volunteers, the Project Co-ordinator will accompany the volunteer on their first outing if requested.

Befriending partnerships are regularly monitored to ensure that both the volunteer and service-user are enjoying the relationship and that there are no problems or issues.

please ring the project co-ordinator on 0208 255 8068 or email