Child/adolescent befriending & mentoring

Family Friends trains volunteers to become mentors and befrienders to children and teenagers. For two hours each week, children may do activities with their volunteer such as playing games and sport, art projects, reading, visiting parks, libraries and museums, doing homework or just having a chat. We make a real effort to match each child/teenager with the right volunteer and children have an equal voice in deciding how they wish to spend time with their friend.

What children say:

"It's great to talk about what I need to"
"I love playing football, flying a kite and making rockets"
"We like going out to the library with Donna, having dinner and a good chat!"
"Ivan makes us feel more confident and happy, and he is brilliant with homework"
"I love going to all the museums with Sheneede, particularly the V&A"

Case Study

Twelve year old Dilly was referred to Family Friends by social workers.  Dilly had just returned to school after being out for 5 weeks due to her anxiety over bullying. Her mother, Caroline, had been diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder and found it difficult to do any outdoor activities with Dilly in case she suffered a panic attack.  Dilly was extremely isolated, with low self esteem.  Family Friend Kate and Dilly explored the local area together and got Dilly used to using public transport.  They visited the local library and Kate supported Dilly to join the reading group of a local youth club, attending the first meeting with her.  Dilly talked a great deal about school and the bullying.  With Kate’s encouragement, Dilly started to spend 30 minutes a night doing homework, to work at the kitchen table instead of in front of the TV, to get into a routine around bedtimes and making packed lunches the night before. Kate encouraged Caroline to support Dilly with this.  During the holidays they found facilities offering holiday activities for Dilly.  Kate got advice from Kidscape about the bullying issue which had not been taken seriously by the school.  She helped Caroline draft a letter asking for the school to co-operate in maintaining a bullying log and accompanied Dilly to a meeting at the school. The bully was moved to another class, the school publicised its bullying policy in every classroom and pupils’ concerns were taken more seriously.