The service is for children aged between 5 and 16 years who live in Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham. For two hours each week, children may do one or more activities with their mentor: visiting parks, libraries and museums, doing homework, playing games and sport, enjoying arts and crafts, reading or just having a chat. Children have an equal voice in deciding how they wish to spend their time.
Family Friends’ services are initiated only with the consent of the child and their family. The most important criteria for receiving Family Friends’ support is that the child is keen to make changes and engage with a mentor.
“Ivan makes us feel more confident and happy and he’s brilliant helping with homework”
How do we work?
At Family Friends we carefully recruit and train our volunteer mentors and we make a real effort to match each child with the right volunteer. Children meet their mentors once a week for two hours. The volunteer spends 15 minutes of each visit with the parent/rest of the family to provide support to them when needed. Our volunteers pledge a minimum six month commitment and Family Friends’ staff back up their work with on-going supervision and family feedback interviews.
“I was struggling with organisation at home, situations at school and I really needed my own space because it is busy in the house. A teacher at school told me about Family Friends. They said that I would get someone who would help me with these things”
What do children gain?
Since Family Friends was set up in 1993, we have assisted hundreds of children and adolescents. Children have gained confidence and self-esteem by enjoying a positive relationship with a trusted adult, giving them someone to talk to and share any problems or issues with. This relationship can make a key difference to a child’s social, emotional and educational development.
Our mentors introduce children to new activities, enrol in local community clubs and together visit places of interest and outside spaces. Many of the children we have supported have developed academically, improved behaviour, enjoyed school more and made new friends. Others have learnt how to cook healthy meals and have got fitter.
“From our first visit, Eleanor was friendly and very understanding of all the things I had to say and helped me to see through every problem”