RNIB Telebefriending Service

Join one of our free telephone social groups to make friends, chat with and support other blind and partially sighted people just like you.

Why take part in a Telebefriending group?

Our weekly Telebefriending groups are a great way to meet new people:

  • people from all walks of life take part – we introduce you to people with similar interests
  • adults of all ages take part – from 23 to 104!
  • the service is accessible from your own home at the same time and day each week
  • completely free – there’s no joining fee and we even call you so there are no phone charges
  • our friendly and informal groups are made up of around six people, so you really get to know your group well
  • groups are hosted by our trained volunteers so conversation flows and everyone feels comfortable joining in.

To join a group, email talkandsupport@rnib.org.uk, or call us on 0845 330 3723 or 020 7391 2218.

Frequently asked questions about our Telebefriending groups

When do the groups meet and for how long?

Over 130 Telebefriending groups currently meet together over the telephone, once a week for around 55 minutes. Groups run between 9.30am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

What do people in Telebefriending groups talk about?

Every one of our friendly groups is different and it’s up to the people in each group to decide what they like to talk about. People talk about everything from families and daily life to current affairs and interests. People often share practical information and encouragement about living with sight loss.

I'm a quiet person, what if I don't have much to say?

People from all walks of life join the service. We do our best to find you a group where you will feel comfortable to contribute. The volunteer hosting the group will ensure everyone has an opportunity to talk and feels comfortable to join in the group discussion.

What happens if I want to exchange telephone numbers or contact details with friends that I've made in my telephone group?

Our groups are safe and confidential and we would never share your details without your permission. If you do meet friends and want to talk at other times we will help you to do this outside of the group.

What happens if I can't attend my group or need to take a break?

We realise that from time to time you may not be able to take part in your group or may wish to take a longer break. Just let us know if that’s the case. You are free to return to Telebefriending at any time.

How will you match me to a Telebefriending group?

We’ll ask you some questions about your interests and availability, and use this information to match you into a group. Our priority is to match you with a group which has like-minded people, perhaps of a similar age, interests and situation, rather than eye condition or where you live in the UK.

How long will if take to match me to a Telebefriending group?

Depending upon your interests and availability, we will try our best to offer you a group within four weeks. We’ll let you know if it takes longer.

What if I feel my group is not quite right for me?

When you meet a group of new people for the first time it can take a little while until you feel confident and settle in to the group. For this reason, we ask all new participants to join a group for a trial period of four weeks before deciding if Telebefriending and your group are right for you. You can ask us to match you into a different group at any time.

What some of our participants say about Telebefriending

Connie

Connie is in her 80s and lives in Brighton. Connie has been taking part every week since 2001.  This is what Connie enjoys most about her group:

  • "Apart from the talking, it's a feeling that everyone gets lots of support. We all have a sight loss. It is easy to talk because we understand one another."

Rosanne

Rosanne is in her mid 60s and has been taking part for over six years. What does Roseanne enjoy most about taking part?

  • "I enjoy the fact that it's spontaneous. We never know what we are going to talk about because nothing is planned, which is good. This makes it very natural."

Mandeep

Mandeep is 39 and has taken part in his weekly Telebefriending group for almost a decade. He enjoys hearing about experiences people have had.

  • "For example with sports, I was intrigued by blind people playing football but couldn't really understand how they did it. In these groups, you come across people who have actually done that and talk about how they did it."

Brian

After taking part in a Telebefriending group for six months, Brian feels the group has started to make a real difference to his life.

  • "It's been absolutely phenomenal. I don't know how I would have got along without it. It's a chance to talk to other people to hear how they are feeling about things."

Diane

Diane enjoys Telebefriending because it's something different and something that she looks forward to each week.

"You get to chat and talk to different people. They might be people that you don't know, but they're friendly people. We've all got something in common. You know, I just look forward to it each week."

Ian

Ian says the group is good for him because he doesn't have a lot of friends in his local area.
 

  • "It gives me a chance to get to know some new people that are maybe like myself. It gives me a chance to meet other blind people, visually impaired people, from around the country, who obviously I wouldn't get to meet in ordinary circumstances. My favourite part of it is being able to make friends and find out what everyone likes to do. In our group, we all like computers quite a lot, so we are all quite techie and we exchange tips with each other. I just like getting to know people and I like the friendliness of it all. I think it's especially good for people who can't get out very much and don't have much of a social life."

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