Victoria is 11 and lives at home with her mum and brother. Quite often her dad and step brother also come to stay with them which makes the family home chaotic from time to time. Victoria was referred to the Broomhouse Youth Befriending Project in 2012 after concerns were raised about Victoria’s welfare and there was an intervention from social work due to her parent’s substance misuse. As a consequence of her parent’s substance misuses, Victoria became isolated from her peers, lacked confidence and had little interest in hobbies.
The Broomhouse Youth befriending Project matched Victoria with a volunteer befriender to support her in discovering new hobbies and interest, build and improve confidence and social skills, and to have time to enjoy activities.
“When I first met Victoria she was very self-reliant and thinks beyond her years”
Victoria’s befriender introduced her to writing stories which has helped her develop her reading and writing skills which she was falling behind at school with but also as a way of expressing her feelings. This has improved Victoria’s ability to seek help and cope with difficult events in her life as slowly she began to talk about her feelings with her befriender.
“She really enjoys when we go out and experiencing new things and activities”
Through the intervention of a volunteer befriender Victoria’s attendance at school has improved and she now attends a morning breakfast club which she feels confident to interact with her peers. Also she has been attending regularly a young carers group for her caring roles who have commented that she appears more confident to engage with her peers and enjoys the time spent away from home. The intervention of a befriender has proved to be valuable for Victoria and vast improvements have been seen both in school and in extra-curricular activities. Without the support it is unlikely that this would have happened.
Chris is 8 and lives with his grandparents in Edinburgh. Chris was referred for befriending in 2013 by his youth club after finding it difficult to participate in group activities and becoming withdrawn from group interaction.
“Chris is a very polite and friendly boy but due to his isolated childhood he struggles making friends and finds it difficult in larger social groups. This is further impacted by living far away from his school so he is not familiar with the children who live in his area”
Chris grew up seeing his parents abuse substances and many different interventions. He now has very little contact with his mum.
The Broomhouse Youth Befriending Project is supporting Chris with a befriender who meets with him on a weekly basis.
“We play the Wii together. This is great for Chris although it is another computer game, it gives him a familiar environment and allows him to feel comfortable to open up about is past issues.”
The role of the befriender has been to help Chris develop his ability to cope with difficult events, situations, to build his confidence and social skills to enable him join in new group activities. His befriender has supported him by arranging to meet with another befriending match in the centre to promote self-esteem and confidence around other children. In addition to this Chris does not get out to play much and spends a lot of time playing on his computer games. Through his befriending volunteer, Chris has been introduced to outdoor activities such as cycling along the Union Canal and to the centre which Chris really enjoys.
“The service befriends offers is a great opportunity for Chris and his grandparents tell me how much Chris looks forward to his befriends meetings.”
This intervention befriending experience has slowly developed Chris social skills and his ability to interact with other children his own age. On group outings Chris now participates in activities and chats with other young people, and afterwards mentions how much he enjoys his nights.
(For data protection purposes names have been changed)
Public Figures on Befriending
“We all need support and friendship, regardless of circumstances. But where do people turn when friends and family are simply no longer there, or can’t help us through a difficult time, or need all our care and attention and can’t give us any in return? Thank goodness for befriending projects, who help fill the empty spaces where care, support and a listening ear need to be.”
—Nicola Sturgeon – MSP
“It is the need of every single one of us, child or grown-up, to feel wanted, to feel we belong and that we matter to someone else in the world. We all know, from our own experience, that feeling isolated from those around us, alienated from society, makes us sad, even angry. The deeper this isolation becomes, the more hurtful and resentful we feel and the more this is reflected in our behaviour. Such behaviour only leads to greater alienation. Children who from an early age feel alone and apart from the rest of the world, and there are so many of them, who become angry and hurt, have little chance of leading fulfilled lives. They are lost from the start. Above all, they need friendship, the solid warmth of someone who cares and goes on caring. With such lasting friendship, self worth and self confidence can flourish, and a child’s life can be altered forever.”
—Michael Morpurgo, Children’s Laureate 2004-2007
“Befriending provides welcome support for some of the most vulnerable members of society and we greatly value the work undertaken by those who voluntarily give up their own time to help others. We see volunteering as an important means of extending people’s participation in their communities, and we respect the contribution that befriending makes to the lives of all those involved.”
—Tony Blair – former Prime Minister
“I believe that befriending can make a real difference to a person’s life. For children and young people a supportive befriender can provide real help through a crisis situation or enable them to perform better at school or act as a bridge to involvement in the child or young person’s community.”
—Hugh R Mackintosh, Director of Children’s Social Services, Barnardos Scotland