You’ve Got A Befriender In Me!
Ahead of Befriending Week we met with Rebekah Smith, Big Hearts Befriender. She has volunteered for the project, run by Big Hearts and Space & Broomhouse Hub, for around 3 years. She gives us an insight into her role and tells us about the benefits to both volunteers and families.
Season ticket holder Rebekah has been a Big Hearts Volunteer Befriender since 2018. A schoolteacher by day, she found she had a few free evenings during the week and wanted to do something worthwhile. Rebekah said, “Rather than coming home and sitting in front of the TV, I wanted to use my spare time to make a bit of a difference.”
As a keen runner, Rebekah first got involved in the Big Hearts running group. This is where she learned of the Big Hearts Befriender programme. “One of the girls in the group was a Befriender, she told me all about it. After hearing her positive experiences, I knew I wanted to do it too.”
During her time as a Volunteer, Rebekah has helped 3 younger people in need of extra support to improve their wellbeing. “Children and Befrienders are matched by similar interests. We spend around a year together, which gives us the chance to get to know each other and build up trust.”
Weekly activities are chosen by each child, giving them the opportunity to do things they are interested in. “We’ve been swimming, rock climbing, baked cakes, enjoyed films at the cinema and even built dens in the woods. It’s really fun for me doing these activities, I’m a big kid!”
Befriending makes a positive impact on the Volunteer, child and their carer, “Often if I’ve had a bad day at work, it really lifts my mood because I know I am making a difference. For the child, it gives them the opportunity to have lots of fun, with no worries. For their carer, it gives them a couple of hours of free time, where they can relax or do their shopping.”
Being a Volunteer Befriender is an extremely enjoyable and fulfilling role. “Seeing the children develop and grow in confidence is amazing. I often take a step back and watch them laughing and smiling, when you know what they have been through – seeing them happy really is so rewarding.”
Once Rebekah had completed her first year as a Befriender, it wasn’t long before she signed up for another match. “The first year flew by and I decided to take on my second child fairly quickly. I really enjoyed what I was doing and missed it when I stopped.”
Rebekah is now enjoying volunteering with her third child, since becoming a Big Hearts Volunteer Befriender. “It’s not hard work, I give a few hours of my week and have great fun doing lots of different activities. Knowing that I could change someone’s life for the better, makes it very worthwhile!”
Thank you, Rebekah, for giving up your time to make a big difference to others. A true charity champion!
– October 2021