Big Hearts Volunteering: Our Befriending Journeys
Every child deserves the chance to play, laugh and socialise regularly, despite any challenges they may face at home or school.
The Big Hearts Befrienders’ initiative seeks to improve the emotional wellbeing of young people aged 5 to 16-years-old who are living in Kinship Care.
Befrienders are matched to a young person who has similar interests to them, accompanying them on a variety of social outings every week.
Al Blair has completed a year as a Befriender with Big Hearts, and would recommend the experience to anyone.
“I was looking for something to do as I had some spare time, and Befriending is definitely something that appealed to me.
I had been a manager at work for a number of years previously and I missed the people development side of things.
With Befriending, I really feel like I’m making a positive contribution and it’s a great feeling.”
Al spoke about some of the activities he did with the young person he was matched with, he said:
“We did activities like indoor golf, bowling and the cinema. We also visited parks, climbed up Arthur’s Seat and Craiglockhart Hill and went out for meals.
For me, it was just a simple meal, but for them, it might be the only chance to be with an adult one-on-one. You’re giving a young person an experience they might not normally get.
So little of your time can go a long way. It’s hugely rewarding.”
Rachel MacGowan has been a Befriender for the past nine months, and is loving the experience. She said:
“I started in January this year, so I’m with my first young person. I’m retiring next year and was looking for things to do, so I contacted Big Hearts.
I’m so glad I did, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done! I have done things I’ve not done since my own kids were young.
With volunteering you expect to give, but with this you actually get. It has made me feel alive and given me a spring in my step. It’s the highlight of my week and it’s such a rewarding thing to do. I couldn’t imagine not doing it now.”
As well as enjoying her own experiences, Rachel is delighted to see the progression of the young person she has been matched with.
“I can see how my young person has really developed in the eight months I’ve been with them.
As Befrienders, we see the difference we’re making now, but we don’t know just how much the confidence they are gaining will positively impact their future.
The support and supervision from Big Hearts is excellent as well. I’m just loving it to be honest.”
Activities are free to attend and will be decided in advance with the child and their carers. These can include baking, arts and crafts, going to the football, walking in the park or going to the cinema among many other fun-filled outings.
If you would like to help a young person build confidence and self-esteem all while creating memories with them, then Befriending could be the volunteering opportunity for you!
If you are aged 18 or above and are interested in this opportunity, you can find out more about the role here.
– October 2023