BEFRIENDING AND MENTORING VOLUNTEERS

  • Would you like to support a family in need?
  • Are you over 23 years of age?
  • Could you give two hours of your time a week and a minimum 6 month’s commitment to a family?
  • Are you a good listener with an empathic nature?
  • Are you non-judgemental and reliable?
  • Could you visit a family in their home in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea or London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham each week?

The next volunteer induction training takes place on:
Thursday 2nd and 9th March 2017, 10am - 3.30pm

And the following training is on:
Saturday 13th and 20th May 2017, 10am - 5pm

Family Friends Offers:

  • Full training and supervision
  • An opportunity for volunteers to learn new skills
  • References after 6 month’s commitment
  • Reimbursement of travel expenses

Good volunteers are the backbone of our work and we are pleased that you may wish to join the Family Friends team.

We support disadvantaged families living in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and the London Borough of Brent in London. All families have requested a volunteer and have expressed the desire to make positive changes in their lives. 80% of our families are from minority ethnic or mixed race background. We support several families where English is limited. We do not have interpreters, although some of our volunteers are multi-lingual.

There is no typical Family Friends family, but 70% are from single parent households and many face such issues as poverty, inadequate housing, poor health, social isolation, refugee/asylum seeker/new immigrant status and depression. Over 40% have a family member with a disability. Children may be affected by school exclusions, behavioural problems and lack of a positive adult role model. Often our families have become isolated from extended family and friends and need support to reconnect or find new resources.

We are working through volunteers, not trained professionals, and so our guidelines state that we are unable to work with families who have severe, long-term mental health issues, children under five on the child protection register, any children who are on the child protection register for sexual or physical abuse in the home, current untreated substance mis-use and on-going domestic violence.

What commitment do we ask from our volunteers?

Volunteers visit their families for two hours a week in the family’s home. We ask for a minimum of 6 month’s commitment once matched to the family.

Before being matched to a family, volunteers are all required to attend an interview and complete a 14-hour training course.

Satisfactory references and police checks are required. This process can take a while and it can be 2-4 months before the volunteer is introduced to the family.

Once volunteers are introduced, it is their responsibility to contact the office weekly to give feedback and receive supervision. This can be by email, phone or face-to-face. They are also expected to attend evening support meetings every 3 months where ongoing training is given.

What is the recruitment process?

The recruitment process is as follows:

  • Prospective volunteers complete the registration form and send it by post or email to our office.
  • Family Friends' staff telephone prospective volunteers to discuss their application and arrange to meet them.
  • Volunteer interviews take place at our offices, usually lasting 1 hour.
  • Due to the nature of our work, Family Friends is unable to take on volunteers who have convictions (custodial or non-custodial) of less than 8 years old. Driving offences may be exempt from this.
  • For police checking purposes, prospective volunteers must have lived in the UK for the last two years and must not have travelled abroad for over six months in either year.
  • We invite successful applicants to attend the next training session. We contact the three people given for references and send off police checks.
  • Volunteers attend 14 hours of training. The next volunteer induction training take place on Thursday 2nd and 9th March 2017, 10am - 3.30pm. Candidates are required to attend both full days.
  • It may take 2-4 months from submitting the application form to meeting the family. This depends on training dates, swift return of the police check and Family Friends having an appropriate family wanting support when volunteers are available.
  • Once references and police checks have been approved, and after discussing a prospective family with the volunteer, an introduction visit will be arranged.
  • We meet the volunteer before the introduction visit and accompany them on their first visit to the family.

Click here to download a Volunteer Application Form

What should you bring to the interview?

All volunteers are given an police check, as part of our legal obligation, as an organisation working in support of children and families. It is very important that you bring some original items of identification to the interview:

  • Any two of the following: valid Passport, UK Birth Certificate or full UK Driving License (photocard with the paper counterpart)
  • Plus two current address identifications (e.g. Bank Statement, Gas/Electricity Bill, etc) and your National Insurance number.
  • A list of addresses you have lived in over the last five years.

Should you be unable to provide any of these, please let us know, as other items may be acceptable.

How are volunteers trained?

We presently run five 14-hour courses a year with a maximum of 18 people per course. They usually take place on two consecutive Saturdays. The course is compulsory for all Family Friends' volunteers. The training has an interactive format, with teaching, discussion, case studies, individual and group feedback. The focus of the course is on 'active' listening skills, the role of a befriender and 'how to empower a family'. We also invite current volunteers to the training to talk about the work they are doing.

All candidates are given a training handbook at the beginning of the first session which contains all the handouts from the course, notes from teaching sections (e.g. on child development and attachment theory) and a reading list. We ask all volunteers to complete evaluation forms after the training.

How are volunteers supported?

It is part of the Volunteers Agreement, that volunteers will contact the staff in the office each week to give feedback and receive guidance on visits. This can be done by email, or a phone conversation, which typically takes 10 minutes but may last 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the situation. Face-to-face supervision may be given as an alternative.

Volunteers are required to attend evening support group meetings every three months, where on-going training is offered by expert speakers on such topics as bullying, depression and parenting, and respecting cultural differences. The support groups last for approximately 90 minutes.

We send volunteers a list of potential activities for befriending (lists of parks and museums in the area etc.), an annual newsletter, and a monthly information newsletter, giving updates on activities, courses and relevant benefits (resources are also passed on to volunteers during the weekly telephone calls).