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Table 4 Negative experiences of the volunteer befrienders

From: Characteristics, motivations and experiences of volunteer befrienders for people with mental illness: a systematic review and narrative synthesis

1. Bad experience with the volunteering schemes
1.1.Bureaucracy/waiting when recruited
Tombs et al., 2003 [17] “the increase in delays in registering befrienders might well have a negative impact on recruitment as volunteers may need to wait for up to six months before being allocated a client.”
“waiting three months for clearance to proceed and, regrettably … may have to wait several months more.”
1.2.The costs linked with the activities
Tombs et al., 2003 [17] “volunteers are expected to pay for their own refreshments and entertainment.”
McCorkle et al., 2009 [22] “insisted on full equality of financial contribution and decision making so that the [befriending] relationship did not encourage passivity and dependency.”
1.3. Feeling pressured with the commitment to meet
Brackhane et al., 1990 [20] “tension between free voluntary input and a sense of duty or obligation”
McCorkle et al., 2009 [22] “after a rough day at work, meeting could feel more like a commitment than like fun.”
2.Dissatisfaction with the relationship with their befriendee
2.1.Expectations of their befriendee not being met
McCorkle et al., 2009 [22] “expected a client who was much younger, physically active, and interested in going places and doing things, but ended up with a middle-aged client without those interests.”
2.2.Disliking their befriendee
Tombs et al., 2003 [17] “Declined befriending … because they did not like the potential befrienders on offer”
McCorkle et al., 2009 [22] “Then I got to thinking, not every match is going to succeed and go off and go to college.”
2.3.Difficult to empathise with the befriendee
Mitchell & Pistrang, 2011 [18] “Some of it I can empathise with and some of it I’ve absolutely no idea at all…I don’t think you will ever get a hundred percent fit with other people… And if you did have that hundred percent fit, it might be ideally the wrong person for them because they’ll just wallow in it with them.”
3. Challenges in the relationship
3.1.Difficulties in adopting an attentive/supportive role as a volunteer
Brackhane et al., 1990 [20] “avoided emotional talks because of anxiety to get too much worked up about it”
Mitchell & Pistrang, 2011 [18] “I’d say the hardest thing is not giving a true reaction to the things she says, and biting my lip rather than making or voicing my judgments or opinions…”
“I’m keeping a watchful eye, but not making it obvious”
3.2.Difficulties in setting boundaries
Mitchell & Pistrang, 2011 [18] “It’s more to do with where I’m putting my boundaries… It’s kind of making sure that the whole conversation isn’t about me…The unequal-ness of the relationship is that one. It’s not about me.”
3.3.Difficulties in dealing with confidentiality/privacy
McCorkle et al., 2009 [22] “the awkwardness of running into a friend or business acquaintance when with one’s match.”
3.4.Difficulties in tolerating the befriendee’s behaviour
McCorkle et al., 2009 [22] “[tolerating] heavy smoking and coffee consumption, occasional outbursts of anger.”
3.5.Feeling exploited by the befriendee
McCorkle et al., 2009 [22] “There was no joy in it for me by going and picking her up and taking her to whatever store she wanted to go to. I knew I wouldn’t last like that. So I started setting limits and explaining to her that that’s not what friends do. They do that occasionally, maybe, but that isn’t what a friend does.”
“feeling treated as a taxicab was an unpleasant experience.”
3.6.Difficulties in ending the relationship
McCorkle et al., 2009 [22] “…He’s as far as he’s gonna be, I think, but I still can’t leave him, ‘cause I feel like we’ve just developed a bond!”
“I can’t imagine not having my [befriendee] friend in my life. I really can’t”
“worried about what would happen if life changes (such as moving elsewhere for graduate school) prevented continuation of the relationship.”
Mitchell & Pistrang, 2011 [18] I feel like it’s slightly kind of a bit like a taboo subject [the end of the relationship]. Um, I think I would be scared of saying the wrong thing, if it came up.