HAPPY BEFRIENDING WEEK!
This week we are joining Befriending Networks in sharing and celebrating ten years of all things befriending.
The hashtag for Befriending Week celebrations is #befriendingls and what is befriending to the young people we support? It is a trustworthy, reliable, caring and friendly volunteer befriender. Giving their time to make a real difference in local young peoples lives, by being their for them.
WORDS FROM A BEFRIENDER
Why I became a Befriender
So I’ve been retired a few months. But I’m busy enough. I’ve never been short of interests and pastimes. And I’ve a house. And a wife.
Still, I quite fancy doing some voluntary work. No, I’m not going to do any charitable work connected with my former occupation. I’m finished with that. And it’ll have to be something active. Hands on.
No idea. I’ll search the web. I turn up this Befriending Project. It’s local. A charity. It’s been established a good number of years. Seems quite legitimate with a worthwhile purpose – helping children and young people. Something entirely different from anything I’ve ever been involved with. I’ve zero knowledge of such work but I am a dad of three and I confess: I loved being a dad – taking them out, introducing them to things, encouraging them, giving them a shot of everything to see what they liked.
Ok. I’ll enquire. I did. And in 2015 after police clearance and some instruction (none too arduous) I was given my first match with a young lad of 11. He had problems fitting in at school. So what can I do to help? I know, I’ll look to build his confidence. How? I’ll try and interest the lad in doing stuff. Find out what he enjoys. Outdoors whenever possible. What? Anything I can think of. So I took him walking, bird-spotting, taking photos, flying a kite on the beach, making and flying a glider, kicking a ball about, playing tennis. And when the weather was rubbish we played cards, board games, and made and painted models indoors. By way of special treats we went to the movies and to ten-pin bowling.
That first match lasted a year. I enjoyed it. Since then, writing this in 2022, I’ve been matched with a further three boys, so that’s four to date. All very different yet each has provided the same challenge: what can I find to interest them.
What do I get out of it? Fun – the laughter that comes with being out and about with and instructing a young lad. Of growing a friendship. Of listening. The pleasure of earning their trust. And, with any luck, at the end of the match learning of some positive impact upon them.
Tell us, what is befriending to you?