For the past 7 years, Sandra has been the Learning Development Officer at Befriending Networks, the umbrella organisation for the befriending sector in the UK. Prior to this, from 2007 to 2011, she managed a befriending service for people with chronic heart failure in Edinburgh and was responsible for the expansion and development of this service throughout Scotland. Both Sandra and Befriending Networks were involved in the first round of the European Mentoring and Befriending Exchange Programme (EMBEP) in 2014/15.
With a background in academic research and teaching spanning 25 years, Sandra came to befriending with a passion and determination to play a part in addressing the endemic and growing problems of social isolation and loneliness for people of all ages, and to work to raise the profile of befriending as a valuable and effective form of support. Much has been achieved on this journey so far: for example, last year Befriending Networks hosted the first ever Loneliness Summit in Scotland and is currently working with the Scottish Government to shape its forthcoming Strategy on Social Isolation. However, there is much still to do, and Sandra continues to be committed to European-wide collaboration as a key factor in improving both the practice and the profile of befriending and mentoring.
Sandra is also a tutor on the International Certificate in Intergenerational Learning online programme. Her spare time is spent walking in the Scottish mountains and playing bass guitar in a rock band – though not at the same time!