To celebrate Volunteers’ Week, we asked Elaine what her thoughts are on being one of our amazing Volunteer Befrienders.
I became a befriender in 2018 and to date I have been matched with three young people. Over that time, befriending is something that has become a big part of my life.
When people ask me what I like about befriending I always tell them that I think it is a real privilege to be welcomed and trusted into a young person’s life, to be allowed to spend time with them and share in some of their experiences. My hope is always that my contribution in their life will make a positive difference, however large or small that may be.
At the end of my first ever match my young person (a boy aged 10) gifted me with a poem he had written about how much our time together had meant to him. The poem is one of the most beautiful things anyone has ever given me, and remains one of my most prized possessions – a reminder of why befriending is so valuable.
From a personal perspective I also feel I have gained from the befriending experience. I’ve made new friends, tried new things, and learned more about myself through my interactions with young people and other befrienders.
Each of my three young people have been very different in character, and each have come with their own quirks and challenges. We have, however, always been able to get to know each other, find common interests and with each I have shared experiences that I will remember forever. Whether that’s ziplining at Barcaple, creating an accidental slime explosion in the office, or simply having meaningful conversations.
The Befriending Project is an amazing and supportive organisation that provides an invaluable service to our young people. I am proud to say I am part of it.
The impact a volunteer befriender can have on a young person should never be underestimated. This poem by ‘John’ was presented to his befriender at the end of their match in September 2019. Only the names have been changed.
My name is John And my life’s a struggle Every day is such a muddle I have no friends My life’s a pain Then I got a befriender Her name is Lorraine. We clicked together straight away Made me smile every day You came to me when I was low You made my confidence grow and grow And turned my frown upside down. We go together on ghostly tours Or stay at home and bake s’mores This makes me smile Haven’t done that in such a long while Wallaby Park, such a fun day Gave me confidence to go down the slide Yes, ok with you by my side Our year is up, it’s time to go To make someone else happy, this I know Thank you Lorraine for being my friend And sticking with me to the end I’m now in a better place for knowing you, a kind caring friend Yes, that’s you. Lorraine my befriender. Love John X