Frequently Asked Questions
A concept developed by BuddyHub, it is a social circle of like-minded friends where one Senior is matched with up to three Buddies.
We connect an older person with up to three like-minded Buddies (our volunteers), who usually live within a 30-minute walk or cycle ride away. Seniors and Buddies are carefully matched based on their interests and experiences. They can then get to know each other in a fun and flexible way. That’s what it’s all about: making friends and enjoying each other’s company.
We are a social enterprise CIC (Community Interest Company), which means we exist to benefit the public first and foremost. That means we reinvest the majority of any profits to further our social mission.
Being a CIC, rather than a charity, will allow us to take on the investment we need to grow our service as quickly as we can. Traditional befriending services typically rely on grants or donations and, therefore, reach only a tiny fraction of Seniors who could benefit from their service. We want BuddyHub to be the first national befriending type service in order to reach as many Seniors as possible. To enable that we need to build out our technology platform to harness the power of digital efficiency to lower the cost of our service. We also need to increase our organizational capacity by increasing our staff. All this requires investment.
We create new friendships for older people to help them live well as they age. The core aim is to alleviate loneliness and isolation so these people feel more connected to their community. Loneliness is harmful to both physical and mental health. Did you know that around four million say that TV or pets are their main form of company? We try to prevent this by giving each Senior a new social circle of Buddies. These volunteers can also boost their sense of well-being as they are helping others while making new friends.
We like to think we’re fresher and a little more nimble than the rest. Firstly there’s our super-efficient and personalised platform, which makes onboarding and matching a doddle. We can get you volunteering quicker the rest. Then there is the Friendship Wheel idea, which is a more flexible and fun way of volunteering than the usual one-to-one model. It’s quite popular so maybe we’re on to something!
We have been focusing on the London borough of Islington but are now expanding our service into the neighbouring boroughs of Haringey and Hackney and the City of London. We hope to be covering the whole of London by 2020. And going nationwide before long…
After the initial introduction, Seniors and Buddies can decide the best days and times for visits. Better to discuss this between yourselves as well as any potential stumbling blocks, such as work or study. Things change though, and if they do then please give the other person a little notice. Buddies, we ask that you visit your Senior for 1-2 hours at least once every three weeks. More is better, if you can.
It’s up to you both. We encourage fun and adventure at every opportunity but don’t feel like you have to pick a wacky new activity every week. There’s nothing wrong with having a catch up over a cuppa from time to time. We will also be sending you ideas about fun things you can do.
We’re all about independence so you should pay for yourselves. We don’t advise lending money to one another as this can complicate matters, but if it’s an “I’ll pay this time, you get the next one” arrangement then go ahead.
As a Community Interest Company, BuddyHub C.I.C. is a social enterprise whose profits and assets are primarily used for the public good. The monthly fee enables us to keep the organisation running and sustainable. We can create and keep more Friendship Wheels running for longer and also maximise the impact of our work.
Many social enterprises fail in the first three years because they have become too dependent on grant funding and not developed a sustainable business model. We plan to stick around and grow so it’s important to get the numbers right and build a firm foundation.
BuddyHub’s mission is to help older people live well as they age. We hope to create a world where no one fears growing older. It’s a big challenge but if we all pull together then amazing things will happen. Thankfully, many of our Seniors feel the same way. They are happy to pay a fee. It empowers them as our customers and valued members of the community.
But we do want to be inclusive, so prices vary according to each person’s ability to pay. Seniors pay a membership fee of £7 per week, which is reduced to £2 per week (paid monthly) for those on means-tested benefits. Everyone enjoys the same benefits and features, regardless of the fee they pay. Some Seniors may have their fee covered by a contract with a third party such as Adult Social Care or a CCG. In this case, the third party may specify which Seniors are to be offered the service via their referral routes.
BuddyHub works on the same principle as charity-run theatres that offer variable ticket pricing. Many of those tickets are heavily subsidised by Arts Council grants and donations. This means they can recover all the VAT on their costs. Our Friendship Wheel fees are also VAT taxable. To allow us to recover all the VAT incurred on the associated costs of running this service – and reduce our overall costs – we cannot offer the service for free unfortunately.
We want to reach as many Seniors as possible. That’s why we reduce the service cost of £7 per week to £2 per week for those on means-tested benefits. But BuddyHub can only offer these subsidised Friendship Wheels if we raise the difference through donations from our community and other supporters. The more donations we receive, the more Friendship Wheels we can create for Seniors on lower incomes. And the more subsidised places we can offer to them at community events. Donations are vital to our impact and growth.
Compliments always brighten up our day and they also give us that extra motivation to help Team BuddyHub create better connected communities and bring Buddies and Seniors together. If you like our service and think we are doing something right, please let us know.
We also sincerely welcome and seek your comments in order to assist us in continually developing and improving our service. Send us a compliment or comment using one of these methods:
- Email: Send a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Comments for BuddyHub” or “Compliments for BuddyHub”.
- Post: Write us a letter and send it to our office at: BuddyHub, 18-20 London Lane, Hackney, London E8 3PR
The complaint should be made either:
- Via Email: Send an email to the BuddyHub Connector: email@example.com with the subject “Complaint for BuddyHub”.
- Through Post. Write us a letter and send it to our office at: BuddyHub, 18-20 London Lane, Hackney, London E8 3PR
- By telephone: call 0203 6426871.
- In person
The Connector will acknowledge, within ten working days, the receipt of any complaint.
If the complaint is about the BuddyHub Connector the complaint should be addressed to the CEO, Catherine McClen (marked ‘confidential’) through the post or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org . At this, and any subsequent stage, the complainant may be accompanied or supported by a friend, but not a legal representative.
We will investigate the circumstances leading to the complaint and will communicate the results of the investigation to the complainant within a reasonable time – normally within 20 working days of the complaint being received. If the complaint is found to be justified, the CEO will agree any necessary further action with the complainant.
They are our wonderful volunteers who we match with our Seniors. Why should you volunteer? The first reason has to be because you want to. Perhaps you care about community or you feel older people are neglected in society and you want to do something about it. But there are other practical benefits that might appeal to you. How about the opportunity to expand your social circle beyond the workplace and current friend group? Or discovering things you didn’t know and gaining invaluable life skills… Convinced? Then step this way
We ask that you meet with your Senior at least once every three weeks. This is a flexible arrangement to be agreed between you. If something comes up and you are struggling to find the time in a hectic week, one of the other Buddies in your Friendship Wheel should hopefully be able to step in.
The friendships we create are the long-term kind, the best kind. That’s why we encourage Buddies to only volunteer if they can commit to at least year. It’s better for everyone all round.
Oh … and one more thing. We ask you to cover the cost of your DBS certificate (£13.50). But this is valid for three years and it could come in handy if you choose to volunteer elsewhere.
In order to become a Buddy you need to:
- Be over 18 years old
- Have an Enhanced DBS certificate that checks the Adults’ Barred list or apply for one (£13.50) through the Buddy Dashboard.
- Provide 2 character references.
- Have a passion or interest in helping to alleviate loneliness in your community.
Buddies would need to be over 18. That’s about it!
Our Buddy Plus members do everything our Buddies do but they also donate money to our cause each month. Why donate? Well, we are extremely grateful to anyone who gives their time to the cause. But as a wise person once said (probably an accountant), with great ambition comes great financial responsibility. So to make the biggest impact nationally, we need a business model that’s sustainable as well as enabling us to offer our service to Seniors who couldn’t afford it otherwise. We offer a deep discount on membership fees to Seniors on means-tested benefits. To be sustainable, we need to fund this subsidy. That’s where our wonderful supporters come in! These donations also enable us to offer discounted tickets for low income Seniors to our events. In the true spirit of community, those that can afford it are subsidising those that can’t helping us set up more Friendship Wheels for low income Seniors and making a really important difference. Thank you!
If you are paying the optional Buddy Plus monthly donation and wish to stop volunteering then simply give us 30 days’ notice and we will cancel this for you. Alternatively, you can switch to Buddy status and continue volunteering at no extra cost.
Thanks for your interest in becoming one of our Buddies!
BuddyHub creates a new social circle for a lonely or isolated older person by connecting them to Buddies who live pretty close to them in their wider community. For that reason, we only accept Buddies that live within a 30-minute walk from our Seniors.
If we aren’t in your area you can subscribe to our newsletter here: https://www.buddyhub.co.uk/ to get updates on our activity and news of our expansion into other areas (hopefully the next one will be yours!)
Unfortunately you need to be living within our areas of operation. We find that it doesn’t work as well when there is a longer distance between you and the Senior. By living close to your Senior, it will be easier for you to travel to and from your visits.
An enhanced check shows spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings (as in a standard check). However it also shows any information held by local police that’s considered relevant to the role.
An enhanced check that checks the Adults’ Barred list shows the same as an enhanced check plus whether the applicant is on the list of people barred from working with vulnerable adults.
All of our Buddies need to undergo an Enhanced DBS checks so that we can safeguard our Seniors, some of whom are vulnerable adults.
Your DBS certificate must show that:
- It is an Enhanced Certificate. At the bottom of the first page of your certificate it should read: “Enhanced Certificate. This document is an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate within the meaning of sections 113B and 116 of the Police Act 1997.”
- It checks the Adults’ Barred List. On the first page of your certificate: if your certificate reads “Not Requested” under “DBS Adults’ Barred List Information” this means that it does not check the Adults’ Barred List” and you will have to apply for your Enhanced DBS on the Buddy Dashboard.
- It has been issued within the last 2 years. The date of issue will show on the top right of the first page of your DBS Certificate.
Applications for an Enhanced DBS certificate will be done via a third party organisation ‘GBG Online Disclosures’ and we ask you to cover GBG’s net administration cost to us of £13.50. This is your personal certificate and will be sent directly to you. This donation helps us to run our service and keep down the cost for our Seniors. But you can still become a Buddy without helping us in this way: just contact us at email@example.com
If you do not have an Enhanced DBS Certificate that has been issued within the last 2 years and checks the Adults’ Barred List you will need to apply for one through your Buddy Dashboard. Once you complete payment for your DBS, we will send you an email with further instructions (not too many) on how to apply through GBG.
For more information on the documents you can choose for verification please see GBG’s ID Verification Guide available HERE.
After you have nominated your documents on the GBG website, you will need to verify your documents at the post office. This should only take a few minutes and you can choose one close to you.
To check which nearby post office can verify your documents, please use the post office branch finder HERE and select the optional “DBS ID Validation Service”.
No problem. You just have to log back into your GBG account and choose the “Amend” button. Keep in mind that if you amend your application you will need to print a new ID Verification Service Letter.
If you applied for a DBS through our online platform, you will not need to show us a copy. GBG will automatically notify us of the outcome.
A character reference is a brief assessment of you as a person based on the view of someone who knows you well (and ideally for at least two years).
References should be objective and impartial so you shouldn’t ask a near relative or people you are barely acquainted with. Good referees are people who have been relatively close to you: teachers, mentors, neighbours, family friends, colleagues, a job centre contact (if you’ve been unemployed).
If you’ve taken part in volunteer schemes or clubs and societies, these are excellent sources. If you cannot easily nominate someone like this we will usually accept references from friends.Unless you’ve worked with someone for many years, an employer isn’t usually suitable for a character reference, because the aim is to get a picture of you as a person rather than as an employee.
Once you nominate your referees, we will send them an email (that you will be able to preview on your dashboard) with a survey that we need them to answer.
The focus will be on your attitude, personal characteristics, skills and qualities. These could include honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, communication skills, reliability and general personality.
It’s rather simple and takes less than 5 minutes for them to complete.
For some it can be because they were looking for a way to give back to their community. For others it can be a more personal reason such as having a loved one who experienced/experiences loneliness and isolation and wishes to help others because of this. Some Buddies may just want to meet new people. There are countless great reasons why people become Buddies but they will be spending time with you because they enjoy your company.
We ask Buddies to meet with the Senior they are matched with, at least once every three weeks. We are happy to say that some Buddies decide to arrange visits even more frequently! When you have three Buddies in your Wheel you may be able to see a Buddy approximately once a week.
We must advise that being a Buddy is a flexible volunteering opportunity, therefore there may be certain times when a Buddy is less available than normal. However, another one of your Buddies may be available to visit during that time instead.
We thought about an assault course but that seemed a little over the top. So we came up with a very simple vetting system, which includes a criminal record check and references, together with training. Our Buddies are selected because of their location and interests, or experience and personal qualities. This approach to matching gives them the best chance of forming a meaningful friendship with a Senior.
We understand that meeting new people can be daunting sometimes and even the most sociable people can find it hard to make friends on certain occasions. The best thing to do is open up and let someone in. They may surprise you. You may surprise yourself! Through your Friendship Wheel, you will have regular contact with several Buddies and this will help you to have a healthier, more fulfilling life.
All of our Seniors are aged 55+, but we do not have an age limit. You could be 55 or 105, we will be happy to have you as one of our Seniors.
We do try to make the best matches possible, based on your likes and interests. But chemistry is a funny old thing and we can’t get it right every time. Our team is always trying to make things better. After joining BuddyHub we stay in touch to ensure that you are comfortable and enjoying your friendships with the Buddies in your Friendship Wheel. If not, we’ll do something about it.
- Register with us. Just go back to our home page and click the orange “Become a BuddyHub Senior” button to get started.
- Fill out all the information on your Senior Dashboard and select a time to meet us.
- Meet our BuddyHub Connector. We meet all of our Buddies and Seniors. This added personal touch helps with the matching process (plus we enjoy meeting everyone in our BuddyHub community).
- Put your feet up while BuddyHub works its magic. We’ll match you with your first vetted Buddy within a month or two.
- You meet your first Buddy. We will arrange this introduction and often come along to make sure it all goes smoothly. Or, if you want to take things slowly, you can chat on the phone first.
- Add others. Your next Buddies joins your Friendship Wheel. Ideally within a month or two. But only if you’re ready, of course.
- Pick and choose what you do. We leave that part to you and your Buddies.
We want all Seniors to relax and enjoy the magic of making new friends. That’s why we put your Buddies in the driving seat and ask them to keep in contact with each other so they roughly know who is visiting you and when. Each of them will then get in touch to arrange a visit. All you have to do is decide if the date and time are good for you. If you’re not feeling up to it, that’s fine. Next time…
We will manage this, inform the other Buddies and do our best to swiftly find a replacement.
That’s the spirit. Absolutely! We are keen to spark lots of new connections in our community so look out for various events and activities that we will be running throughout the year. If transport issues are a problem then we will do our best to help you attend. (Priority will be given to older people with mobility issues, who are on low incomes.)
As a Community Interest Company, BuddyHub C.I.C. is a social enterprise whose profits and assets are primarily used for the public good. To enable us to maximise the impact of our work and keep the organisation running and sustainable there is a charge for the Friendship Wheel service.
Many Social Enterprises fail after around 3 years because they have relied on grant funding and do not develop a sustainable business model. We’re determined to build BudddyHub C.I.C on firm financial foundations so we achieve our mission of helping older people live well as they age and our vision of creating a world where no one needs to fear growing older.
We know that Seniors do not wish to be patronised which is all too common in our ageist society: we found Seniors did not wish to be thought of as being in need of charity. Seniors pay a membership fee to join BuddyHub which empowers them as our customers and fits well with our core value of respect.
However, we want to inclusive so our prices vary according to a Senior’s ability to pay for our service. Seniors pay a membership fee of £7 per week falling to £2 per week for those on means-tested benefits (paid monthly). Seniors paying the discounted fee receive the same benefits and features as those paying the full amount. Some Seniors may have their service fee covered by a contract with a third party such as Adult Social Care or a CCG. In this case, the third party may specify which Seniors are to be offered the service via their referral routes.
BuddyHub works on the same principle as charities that operate theatres selling variable priced (but not free) tickets some of which are heavily subsidised by Arts Council grants and support donations. This enables them to recover all the VAT on their costs. The Friendship Wheel service fees are VAT taxable. To enable us to recover all the VAT incurred on the associated costs of running the service, reducing our overall costs, we cannot offer the service for free.
We need to raise the difference between the service cost of £7 per week and the discounted rate of £2 per week for low income Seniors. We hope to raise this subsidy via donations from our community and other supporters and via grants. How much we raise in this way will determine how many Friendship Wheels we can provide for lower income Seniors.