"Befriending at Arnold Lodge: A Volunteer’s Perspective"

About: Arnold Lodge Regional Secure Unit

(as a volunteer/advocate),

Befriending at Arnold Lodge: A Volunteer’s Perspective

I was very keen to undertake voluntary work at Arnold Lodge after my retirement. So I was pleased to have the opportunity to become a volunteer in a befriending scheme set up by Jo Rapson, Voluntary Services Manager, Forensic Division, and Jennie Palmer-Vines, Therapy Services Manager, Arnold Lodge. I was very aware of the need for such a scheme. Not long before my retirement, I facilitated a patient satisfaction survey, which found that 31% of patients were rarely or never visited (Arnold Lodge 2010).

At first, it was strange returning to Arnold Lodge in a very different role, and I found myself automatically reaching for non-existent keys to get through doors! It was interesting to experience Arnold Lodge as a visitor. Thanks to everyone who has made me feel very welcome, both the two people I have started to “befriend”, and managers and staff of different disciplines. Safety and security at Arnold Lodge remain excellent, but I’ve wondered if some visitors might find the number and content of security notices forbidding, even though this is not intended.

The amount of thought that has gone into setting up the befriending scheme is very apparent. I attended an excellent training day, where we were encouraged to think about the befriender’s role, in relation to safety and relationships with befriendees, including the maintenance of boundaries. The training was very well delivered, and encouraged reflection.

It was good to have an initial meeting set up by Jennie Palmer-Vines, and attended by each of the people that I visit, and to discuss items in a contract. This makes clear, to both patient and befriender, the role of both in the relationship; and the need for the befriender to report to staff anything that patients have said about harming themselves or others, or about their mental or physical health.

I started visiting in November, 2012. How have the visits progressed? Well, only the patients can judge this. I have recognised the need for consistency and reliability: to be available to visit regularly, provided the patients concerned still want this. There is also a need to be self-aware, and to avoid a relationship that is patronising; and a need to be relaxed and informal, whilst, at all times, maintaining awareness of safety and the maintenance of boundaries. I look forward to my future befriending visits.

RB 1 February, 2013


Arnold Lodge (2010). Patient Satisfaction Survey. Final Report. (Author: RB with statistical analysis by L. McCarthy. Internal document. Leicester: Arnold Lodge).

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Response from Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust


Thank you very much for this wonderful feedback. I am glad that you are enjoying your befriending at Arnold Lodge and you found the training sessions both informative and beneficial. I am sure that the patients you are matched with also enjoy and appreciate your visits. Befriending is a positive experience for our patients and it often makes a big difference in their quality of life knowing that someone is coming to visit them regularly and really value the fact that you choose to spend time with them, rather than being under a professional or family obligation to do so.

Thank you again

Joanna Rapson

Volunteering & Befriending Manager

0800 052 1415


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