Virtual Buddying befriending service

Make a friend online

Sense’s Virtual Buddying is for disabled people of any age in the UK. Chat online or on the phone with your buddy once a week from the comfort of your home.

Not a fan of chatting on the phone? We also offer the option of connecting you with with a pen pal, so that you can exchange emails, texts or letters.

Together, you can learn a new skill, build your confidence, do your favourite activities – or simply have a chat and a laugh together! Sign up using the form below. If you don’t have a disability, why not learn about volunteering with us?

Once you have submitted this short form ,you will receive and automated email asking you to submit our longer application form. This should take about 20 minutes to complete.

Once this longer form is submitted, you will receive another automated email asking you to book on to a 30-minute Zoom call with a member of the Virtual Buddying Team to complete your onboarding.

Don’t forget to check your Spam and Junk folders if you have not received an email after each step!

Who’s it for?

Virtual Buddying is open to disabled people of all ages in the UK.

If you don’t have a disability, why not become one of our amazing volunteers? Sense will support you every step of the way and it’s a fantastic way to make friends online.

How it works

It’s really simple to get started.

  • Enter your details in the short form above, and we’ll send you an application.
  • One of our team will be in touch to learn more about you and your interests.
  • We’ll match you with a volunteer who’s a similar age, personality and who shares your interests.
  • We’ll introduce you to your new buddy!

Call or video chat your new buddy for an hour a week, when it suits you. We’ll check in with you regularly to see how you and your Buddy are getting on.

Got a question? Here’s the answer.

Why sign up for Virtual Buddying?

Gain confidence

A young man in a white poloshirt leaning on a table

“Sense volunteers have helped me so much and I would love to volunteer my time, too, and help other people.”

Saihan, one of Sense’s Virtual Buddies

Make friends and connections

“Olivia loves Bethany to pieces and says they’re best friends.”

Sam, whose daughter Olivia is one of our Virtual Buddies

Learn new skills together

Buddy pair Rebecca and Trisha Mae smiling at the camera

“I didn’t have much experience of baking cakes but Trisha-Mae was really patient and helped me get my skills up.”

Rebecca, who volunteers with Trisha, one of our Sense Buddies

How Sense will support you

  • Arranging activities
    We can arrange the activities you’d like to try and send you free activity packs in the post.

  • Help with IT
    We can provide iPads and help you and your buddy work out the best way to chat.

  • Support for your family
    The wellbeing of your family is important to us too. Check out our Siblings and Young Carers service.

Any questions?

If you have any questions about the Sense Virtual Buddying service, do get in touch. Or check our list of common questions and answers:

Can I access Sense Virtual Buddying if I don’t access any other Sense service?

Yes you can! Sense Virtual Buddying is available for anyone with a disability – it doesn’t matter if you use any of our services already.

Can my sibling/family come on sessions with me?

Virtual Buddy sessions are most successful when it’s a chat between two people. We’d prefer for other people not to join the call, unless they are supporting any communication needs.

Who can take part in Sense Virtual Buddying?

Sense Virtual Buddying is for anyone aged 5 and over with a disability.

How long will it take to find me a Buddy?

We always take our time to make sure you are matched with the right person, so this is a difficult question to answer! We might have someone straight away, or it might take us longer. Whatever happens, we’ll keep you updated until you have your Buddy.

How long does it last?

You can involved for however long you find it useful. We expect Buddies to have a catch-up once a week, but you decide when is most convenient. Keep communicating your plans clearly with your Buddy and the team.

Does Sense Virtual Buddying cost anything?

Sense Virtual Buddying is completely free.

How do you decide who my volunteer Buddy will be?

Volunteers apply all the time, and we make sure we have a good understanding of their interests, their personality and their skills. Then we compare these to what you’ve told us about yourself. We’re really proud of all our matches that have been successful.

What happens on sessions with my Buddy?

It’s entirely up to you. You can talk about the weather, learn guitar, have a coffee, play games – or anything else you two can think of! We can suggest ideas and send activity packs if you need inspiration.

How can I access Sense Virtual Buddying if I don’t have a laptop/phone/tablet/wifi?

Sense can provide the equipment you need. Do get in touch if you’d like more information.

Is it possible to buddy with someone over text or email?


Are there opportunities to meet other people?

Yes. We do hold group sessions, where we get lots of people together on a call. Pandemic permitting, we also arrange in person group meet ups, if possible.

Are there opportunities to meet other people?

Yes. We do hold group sessions, where we get lots of people together on a call. Pandemic permitting, we also arrange in person group meet ups, if possible.

What is special about the service?

Sense Virtual Buddying is the only free nationwide service dedicated exclusively to helping disabled people make friends online.

When the pandemic started, we realised that many people with disabilities were stuck indoors, unable to meet new people – that’s when Sense Virtual Buddying was born.

Even as restrictions on movement have changed, there’s still been a huge demand for the service because it fits in with everyone’s busy lives. Plus, who doesn’t like having a new friend?