Young man learning to play the guitar with the assistance of an older man.

What do the friend activities entail?

Photo: Joonas Brandt / Suomen Punainen Risti

Loneliness affects most of us in different situations in life. Each of us needs the company of another person, and even a single positive relationship can stop the cycle of loneliness.

The Finnish Red Cross offers friends where they are needed. The trained volunteer friends from our friend activities bring joy to the everyday lives of lonely people. First and foremost, the volunteer friend is a listener and someone to talk to.

Who can become a volunteer friend?

Anyone can join our friend activities and become a friend to someone lonely. If you have the skill of listening and being present, you are a suitable volunteer friend candidate. No special skills are required.

The friend activities are intended for all kinds of people: young people, seniors, students, people with families, people living alone, men and women. You can choose the way you wish to help. 

You can meet your friend personally, be a friend online or take part in group activities. You can commit in the long term or participate on a one-off basis.

What can you do with your friend?

Friendships born through volunteer activities are much like any other ordinary friendships built on trust. The friends get together and spend time in a manner that suits them.

Together with your friend, you can do various things that interest you both, such as chatting, reading magazines, moving outdoors or going to a concert or café. You can also spend time together with your friend doing a hobby that you both like. You and your friend can decide on how, when and where you wish to meet. 

How can I join the friend activities?

You can become a volunteer friend by completing the basic course on friend activities. The Finnish Red Cross trains all future volunteer friends on a friend course consisting of three lessons.

In addition to providing information on the Red Cross volunteer operations and the different forms of friend activities, the course includes lessons on interaction and meeting other people. The friend course also provides the opportunity to get to know other volunteers.

Once you have completed the course, you can choose to become a volunteer friend. We will find a suitable friend for you.

The forms and extent of friend activities vary by location.

To find out more about the friend activities where you live, contact the Finnish Red Cross local branch or district office

Many ways of being a friend

For an elderly person living alone, the regular visits of a volunteer friend provide a sense of security and bring joy to the lonely everyday life. Simply being present and available can be enough, but the company of a volunteer friend can also often encourage an elderly person to move outside the home.

You can also accompany an elderly person on a trip to the doctor or the shops. Assisting with errands in this way means short-term and one-off help.

When a young person in need of a friend is paired with a volunteer, we pay special attention to their interests and wishes on shared activities. You can also be active together with your friend, e.g. engage in different hobbies, go to the movies, have coffee and attend games or gigs. 

For an immigrant, a volunteer friend can be an irreplaceable support. You can become a friend for an immigrant or a family alone or together with your partner, family or friend. You can do everyday things together , like go for a walk, cook dinner or get to know the local sights.

Find your nearest friend course or contact your local branch

The everyday life of a family caregiver, caring for a loved one full-time or alongside their work, can be challenging and stressful. Supporting a family caregiver as a Red Cross volunteer makes you an important part of their everyday life. A visit to the family, a group meeting your have organised or a refreshing trip can be the most anticipated event of their month. 

In addition to the basic course on friend activities, we offer complementary training on activities supporting family caregivers for prospective volunteers. 

Find your nearest friend course or contact your local branch

Read more about family caregiving activities

Do you like to send messages and exchange thoughts in writing? As an online friend, you can have anonymous one-to-one discussions with your friend in a manner that suits you both, using email messages or discussion applications. An online friendship is independent of time and place.

You can become a volunteer online friend by completing the online friend training or the basic course on friend activities as well as the online introductory course for online friends.

Find your nearest online friend or friend course.

If you wish to complete the online introductory course for online friends, contact us:

Volunteer friend visits or recreational activities bring a desired change and inspiration to people living in hospitals, assisted living facilities and care homes. As a volunteer, you can visit regularly as someone to talk to or provide help with outings and arrange events and group activities – alone or together with other volunteers.

As a prison visitor, you can provide a breath of fresh air inside the prison walls. The return to civilian life becomes easier when an inmate has not lost all contact with the outside. As a prison visitor, you can visit the same inmate a couple of times a month, or arrange group activities together with other visitors. You can decide on the group themes and objectives together. A prison visitor must be at least 25 years of age.

Find your nearest friend course or contact your local branch

As a volunteer, you can lead various groups and clubs or assist with arranging different events and trips.

The groups can offer recreational activities at assisted living facilities or other institutions, but they can also be open neighbourhood clubs or peer meetings where people in a similar situation in life can meet for discussion and activities. We also arrange group activities for immigrants and mental health rehabilitees.

Find your nearest friend course or contact your local branch

friend volunteers