The National Autistic Society

Scottish Befriending Scheme

To support families in Scotland who have a member with an <b>Autistic Spectrum Disorder</b>. Our befriending scheme provides a trained volunteer who spends a few hours each week with a person with autism or Asperger syndrome or one of their family members. Having a child with an autism spectrum disorder can have a huge impact on family life - even a trip to the shops can be a fraught and intense occasion. It was in response to the many pleas from parents and family members for a reliable and trained respite support that, in 1998, we set up our volunteer <b>Befriending Scheme</b>. Our Scheme helps relieve parents of some of the pressures that looking after an autistic child inevitably brings. It provides a much needed break for the parents and helps to break the wall of isolation.

history Campaign has now closed

It ran from to

Registered Charity in England and Wales (269425)




  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Older PeopleOlder People
  • Women & GirlsWomen & Girls
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)
  • OtherOther



<b>The Issue</b> Autism is a lifelong development disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. An NAS survey revealed that the burden of care extends well beyond the normal expectation of caring for a son or daughter at home. Autistic behaviour is often extremely erratic and unpredictable, and this can make venturing out with a child who has the condition both problematic and embarrassing. Because parents have to give so much time and attention to the autistic child, they are unable to give any significant time to their other children or to each other. The strain this brings to marriages is immense, and many collapse altogether. <b>What we have done about it</b> Our experience shows that the NAS befriending scheme can break the wall of isolation for families and individuals whose lives are affected by autism. It also enables the parents to spend quality time with each other and with their other children. <b>“Having a befriender has been brilliant. I get a chance to spend time with my other children, as well as a chance to get a precious few hours to myself.” (Parent)</b> Last year we were able to support 425 families across our 15 services in the UK helping over 1,700 people We currently have 48 families across Edinburgh and Glasgow matched with a volunteer befriender. However we currently have 64 families in Scotland on our waiting list. <b>It costs NAS £1000 to train and support a volunteer befriender for one family for a year.</b> This year we require <b>£50,000</b> to train new volunteer befrienders and to ensure that we can continue our vital Scottish befriending service.