PRESS RELEASE: Local charity appeals for volunteer befrienders

 In 5 to 13 year olds, Media, Volunteering

Winchester-based charity, Friends of the Family, is appealing for volunteers to train to become befrienders for children who live in the local area. The charity’s 5s to 13s Befriending Service was set up in 2009 to provide support and friendship to children and families who are dealing with difficult and challenging circumstances. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a shortage of volunteers and a waiting list of children in need of support.

Before being carefully matched to a child, volunteers attend a free 2-day training course, provided by Friends of the Family. The training covers all aspects of the befriending role including communication skills, boundaries, befriending activities and issues facing children today. New volunteers will also have the opportunity to meet a current 5s to 13s befriender who will give a personal insight into their befriending experience.

Sam Hunt, 5s to 13s Befriending Manager, said: “We are very keen to hear from anyone who enjoys being with children and who has two hours a week to spare to volunteer for this unique and rewarding role. We would also like to reassure potential volunteers that our bespoke training course will adhere to the recommended social distancing rules and will also include guidance on how they can befriend a child safely during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Applicants must be over the age of 23 and be able to visit a child once a week, either after school or at the weekend, for 12 months. Volunteers receive regular supervision, invitations to volunteer get-togethers and on-going training opportunities. Prior to the pandemic, Friends of the Family also organised termly workshops for children as well as an annual activity day which they are hoping to run again when it is safe to do so.

Sam Hunt added: “We have had to adapt over the past 6 months and our volunteers have been amazing. Most have made use of Zoom and WhatsApp to stay connected to their focus children and families when restrictions have prevented face-to-face visits. But more recently they have been able to enjoy socially-distanced visits, dog-walks, bike rides, picnics and trips to the local park with their focus child. We do now have children waiting for a befriender so if you think that you could offer your time and friendship then please get in touch to find out more. We would love to hear from you.”

For an application pack or to find out more about befriending please email or call Lisa on 01962 864466. Further information is also available on the charity’s website at