Volunteering is something that I am so passionate about, especially befriending. I started my Aberlour journey as a volunteer befriender, something which I truly believe has helped shape the person that I am today and the job that I do. Befriending therefore is something which I hold close to my heart.
Within our Youthpoint service, we currently have four befrienders matched with four of our young people. Our befrienders are all different and bring their own set of skills but all put the young people they are matched with at the centre of what they do and bring so much joy to the young people they are matched with.
I have loved meeting volunteers at training and finding out more about them and their motivations to volunteer. It is lovely to see the volunteer match progress and the relationships that the befriender and young person have with each other. Many of our volunteers blossom over time, growing in confidence and self-esteem and our young people flourish having that relationship with their befriender, many of them also growing in confidence and self-esteem. Both befriender and young person trying new things that the other has introduced them to.
Prior to COVID-19 our befrienders and young people took part in a whole range of activities such as; going out for something to eat, going to the park, the library, doing arts and crafts, exploring shops, the cinema, and much more. However, during lockdown, volunteering matches had been happening by phone. Volunteers were creative in their approach as to how to make the call as fun and interactive as it could be. One mum stated, “I don’t know what they talk about on the phone but I always hear M. laughing away”.
I feel so humbled that our befrienders chose us as an organisation to give their free time to and commit to building a relationship with our young people. Our befrienders are; passionate, caring, compassionate, creative, fun, kind and so much more – I could go on forever.
I remember being at a networking event once and someone being of the impression that befriending was a pointless role, asking what difference it would make to a small group of young people to only meet up with someone once a week for a set time scale then never see them again. However, so many volunteers I have spoken to have told me, that they themselves had a befriender when they were younger and that person made a difference to them and had a lasting impact and that is why they wanted to give something back and become a befriender themselves. I have watched young people gain new skills, become more confident, take part in activities they have never tried, and become involved in their local community. I have seen the excitement on young people’s faces when meeting their befriender and listened to them speak enthusiastically about the activities they have done. Most importantly I have seen young people grow and flourish. So for me, that is the difference and if it makes even the smallest difference to that young person then I believe that is the reason and that it has been worthwhile.
– Clare, Assistant Service Manager Glasgow Family Support Service