5s to 13s befriending
Our befriending service provides early support to children and families with challenging home lives. We aim to help local families break their cycle of struggle and develop strategies which empower them to build a more positive future.
What do we offer?
One-to-one support to an individual child (aged between 5 and 13 years) and his or her family, with a trained volunteer befriender Visits take place weekly, for two hours and families are asked to commit to one year with the service in order to see the real benefits.
Our befrienders offer a listening ear, provide non-judgmental advice when asked, involve their child in fun activities, work to re-engage child and parents and improve self-confidence, encourage families to seek their own solutions to problems they face, and signpost other sources of support in the local area.
Additionally we provide:
- group activities for children, such as after-school workshops and an annual activity day during summer holidays
- informal parent get-togethers to encourage parents to develop a social network of their own
- support for families at meetings with schools and other community agencies.
We often build on the work that other services have put into place, promote their strategies and help to forge relationships between them and families.
Parents of children receiving support from a befriender can also be referred to our complementary counselling services.
“Our son was very quiet and withdrawn; he is much more confident now and has a wonderful bond with his volunteer.”
“My volunteer has pulled our family together as she is someone different that I can talk to instead of my Mum and she listens.”
Who is it for?
Families with a child between the ages of 5 to 13. Some children are experiencing difficulties with relationships at home and may have challenging behaviour that parents are finding difficult to manage. Others may be struggling with their school, their homework, or have siblings with complex needs.
How does it work?
Once a referral has been accepted, our 5s to 13s Befriending Manager meets with the family in their own home to identify their needs. A volunteer befriender is then carefully matched and introduced to the focus child and parents.
The befriender makes weekly visits, after school or sometimes at weekends. During this time the befriender gets to know and develop positive relationships with the child and family, and offer guidance in a non-judgemental and supportive way.
Befrienders support their focus child by spending quality time together, engaged in activities inside and outside of the child’s home to boost confidence and develop their social skills and interests.
Emma, aged 9, was referred to Friends of the Family by her school’s nursing team as she had been anxious for some time and displaying some worrying behaviours at both home and school. Emma’s parents, who both suffer with mental health difficulties, were at a loss as to how to support their daughter through these difficult times. Befriender, Jo, was matched to Emma and they began to meet regularly after school for two hours. During their time together, Jo and Emma forged a positive relationship which encouraged Emma to find different strategies for coping with the difficulties that she was facing. Consequently, Emma’s worrying behaviours subsided. Emma’s confidence also grew and she began participating in new opportunities in and out of school such as golf lessons and drama activities.
The 5s to 13s service also provided practical and emotional support to Emma’s parents. At regular school meetings with other professionals who were involved with the family, we were able to give helpful insight into Emma’s wellbeing and development. The family were also pointed in the right direction to receive additional financial support from another voluntary organisation which enabled them to create a separate bedroom for Emma’s brother in the family home.