Our Impact

Our Impact 

Befriend has supported community members to host over 1,000 community-based gatherings since our inception in 2010, connecting over 10,000 people in Perth. Our broader reach in the community is extensive, with over 7,000 individuals receiving regular invitationts to local gatherings.

Clear Horizon Consulting were engaged to undertake an independent impact evaluation of Befriend in 2017. Our theory of change informed a mixed-method evaluation approach, using quantitative and qualitative methods to measure our impact. 

To download a summary of the Impact Evaluation, click here.

To download a copy of the full Impact Evaluation Report, click here.

Who are our members?

What were the main themes?

Is Befriend influencing community attitudes and behaviours towards inclusivity?

In a nutshell, yes. The evaluation found that Befriend has been successful in reducing social isolation by assisting people to build more inclusive social connections, and influencing community attitudes and behaviours towards inclusivity overall.
The majority of people surveyed said they enjoyed the gatherings they attended, and that their social connections had increased. Many had made new friends and for a few, those friendships extended beyond Befriend events. Attending our events made members feel more comfortable in approaching and interacting with others and some felt a greater sense of independence. People with a disability or mental ill-health particularly valued the opportunity to interact with a range of different people outside their usual support circle.

The academic literature suggests a causal link between the quantity and quality of a persons’ social connections and improved well-being. Due to the increased social connections people have formed through Befriend, it is likely that this has led to an improved sense of well-being overall.
Many people said that they have more inclusive attitudes and behaviours because of their involvement in Befriend. They reported being more active in engaging people during social interactions and feeling more comfortable interacting with people who were different from themselves. As a result, they feel more socially included in their own lives. Members also spoke of how Befriend accepted them for “who they were”, resulting in an increased sense of belonging.
In the last two years, Befriend has provided professional development services to 16 community services organisations. Staff who attended these activities said that they had gained greater knowledge, skills and confidence to support the people they work with to build social connections and natural relationships. For many, this had resulted in them being supportive of activities that promote more inclusive social connections outside typical support offerings. In addition, some staff saw value in Befriend for themselves and became active individual members.

How could Befriend be improved?

More events in more places
Feedback consistently suggests that more events in more places would significantly reduce barriers to involvement. Befriend has recently developed a partnership model working with local councils to support the extension of community networks across local geographical areas. Growth in these partnerships will address this barrier. Additionally, we will continue our work on attracting and retaining Hosts across Perth.
Virtual connection
A small number of members indicated that they had a reduced sense of isolation, despite never having attended an event. While the reasons for this are unknown, one theory is that receiving regular Befriend communications had an impact on reducing feelings of isolation. We will investigate this further to ensure people continue to receive value from Befriend.
Professional development
Based on the evidence, Befriend’s professional development service offering have the potential to transform the behaviours and attitudes of many people working in the community services sector from a 'companionship approach' to 'community connecting.' The reach is likely to be extensive and outcomes very positive. We will continue to develop our professional development and consulting services based on the evidence and needs of the sector and our key partners.

To download a summary of the Impact Evaluation, click here.

To download a copy of the full Impact Evaluation Report, click here.