Side-by-Side is one model of being with young people during a time of social distancing. It is a ‘walk and talk’ befriending scheme, in which a caring adult meets up regularly with a young person for a short walk – and talk!

Working safely within Covid-19 guidance and restrictions, Side-by-Side offers young people a caring and consistent adult ‘befriender’, someone to listen and encourage, at a time when they need connection more than ever.  

The target age group for young people is 7 to 17 years, but in some instances this model would also work with younger children or older teenagers. It is anticipated that Side-by-Side can be used with children and young people already in the corps, as well as those in the community who are usually in contact with the corps via the various youth and children’s programmes. 

We realise that many young people are experiencing boredom, loneliness and anxiety at this time. Many of their usual activities are on hold, as is the opportunity for them to meet up with friends. Side-by-Side provides an additional committed and consistent adult from outside of the family home to be with the young person during this unprecedented time. The befriender and young person will meet regularly for a short walk, during which they can chat, have some fun, some fresh air and exercise. The key responsibility for the befriender is to promote positive emotional and physical wellbeing, to extend the young person’s support network and to signpost to further support where necessary.  

The level of admin and planning you’ll need to do before you start will vary slightly depending on the scale to which you’re planning to run this. There’s a basic level of paperwork and structure that you’ll need in place no matter what. But if you’re looking to start Side-by-Side with one or two young people, you’re going to need less of a support structure than if you want to kick off with 25 young people.

It will be important that someone in the corps has responsibility for overseeing and supervising the adults who become befrienders. You need to decide who will be responsible for this in your corps. It is likely that your corps officer will need to be responsible either for the whole project, or for supporting the person who is heading up the project. 

Here are the key steps that you will need to take to set up and run Side-by-Side effectively and safely in your corps.

  • Decide who will co-ordinate Side-by-Side in your corps. We recommend either the corps officer, youth team leader or the YPSM.
  • Envision the corps congregation about Side-by-Side. 
  • Distribute the information letters to anyone who is interested in participating. This includes adult corps members who would like to become a befriender, parents/carers, and young people (inside or outside of your corps) who would like to meet up. 
  • Select befrienders using the Safer Recruitment Policy (see Procedure 1 & Appendix 7 in the Safe & Sound handbook).
  • Ensure befrienders have completed Safe and Sound 1 training and had a DBS check.
  • Design safe walking routes around your community, lasting no more than 45 minutes, that the pairs must follow.
  • Complete a risk assessment (as required by your insurer).
  • Hold a meeting for all the befrienders to go through the expectations and practicalities of their role in Side-by-Side. 
  • Obtain permission letter from parents of the young people who wish to take part.
  • Obtain an information sheet from the young people who wish to take part. 
  • Pair up each adult befriender with a young person, and inform the adult, young person and the parents of the pairing.
  • Schedule regular ‘check-ins’ for each befriender with the Side-by-Side Co-ordinator or other experienced corps member. 


Being with young people during a time of social distancing

youth resources

Side by side resource


We have prepared the following information sheets and checklists to assist you in setting up and establishing Side-by-Side in your corps.

These are coming soon!

- Befriender
- Young person
- Parent
- Side-by-Side Co-ordinator