Nina began volunteering with the Scottish Guardianship Service in December 2019 after completing the befriending training.
“It seemed like something I would be well equipped to do, having previously worked with teenagers. It also wasn’t a huge time commitment and seemed like the activities would be fun for both the young person and myself. It just seemed like it would be a really useful and rewarding way to spend a couple of hours a week.”
After being matched, Nina met with her young person once a week to do a variety of activities including visiting museums and galleries, drawing, doing college homework or general English practice, and playing sports. Nina and her young person both enjoy playing badminton and regularly play together. Since sports centres have been closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, they have moved to playing tennis outside, an activity which Nina’s young person had not tried before.
“Playing badminton at a Glasgow Gym has gone really well. This was an especially good activity at the beginning when I was getting to know my young person and she wasn’t confident with her English. We both really enjoy the game and it was great for cold weeknights.”
“I really enjoy catching up with my young person each week. It has been a pleasure getting to know her and seeing her develop her confidence in English and with life in Glasgow. It has also been great to get to know my own city better by seeking out cultural activities to do.”
As well as getting to do lots of fun activities with her young person, Nina has also gained lots of useful knowledge and experience.
“I have developed a better understanding of the circumstances and challenges which are faced by refugees and children in particular. I have also come to know more about the care system in Scotland and the needs of looked-after children. Through arranging and reviewing activities and maintaining consistent communication with my young person, their home, and Aberlour, I’ve probably improved my organisation skills too!”
When lockdown restrictions made meeting in person impossible, Nina and her young person moved their befriending visits seamlessly over to video calls and Nina remained a consistent source of support to her young person throughout lockdown. Over video calls, they continued to draw together and do activities to practice English.
During one discussion with her guardian over lockdown, Nina’s young person was asked if she was feeling isolated at all, to which she replied, no, because she sees her best friend every week. When her guardian enquired further, she realised that she was referring to Nina. Nina clearly occupies an important role in this young person’s life.
“If you have the time and want to make a difference to a child’s life, definitely give it a go. I have felt incredibly supported by Aberlour and the Scottish Refugee Council throughout my entire volunteering experience and have personally experienced the rewards and joys of giving my time to the charity. Go for it!”