The Ami project has been running for just over 2 months now and we have come a long way in a short time. We’ve interviewed people who have older parents living far away, met lots of amazing people who run befriending networks and made contact with national organisations who offer befriending services. We’ve learnt a lot about how befriending works, the benefits it brings and the importance of making a good match.
Our focus has changed, away from the original driver which came from OCC’s experience in social care and towards the issue of loneliness. We’ve quickly realised that the best way forward is to work closely with the voluntary organisations who have a wealth of experience in running befriending services.
We think that Ami could add huge benefits to befriending services by using IT to do the sorts of things it does so well, whilst working with trained volunteers and professionals to do the parts that humans do so well. The benefits we believe Ami could bring include:
- Enabling voluntary organisations to make quicker matches between clients and volunteer befrienders
- Enabling all existing befriending services and charities to work together to map services across the UK and ensure more efficient use of resources.
- Creating easier processes for relatives, GPs and other agencies to refer lonely people to befriending services
- Providing easier secure record keeping for voluntary organisations and real time information about visits.
- Creating secure lists of isolated people within neighbourhoods, useful for Local Authorities, Emergency Services and many other agencies.
- Motivating more people (especially younger people) to volunteer as befrienders, by making the signing up process more immediate and highlighting the level of need in their local community.
So we’ve invited some of the people we’ve made contact with so far to come and meet Oxford Computer Consultants towards the end of February and find out more about Ami and how we might be able to work together. We’re really looking forward to it.