I first began volunteering whilst at University, placed in two very different Organisations by the Student Volunteer Service at Glasgow University. Once established in my future career within the NHS, I wanted to volunteer in a role working with young people. I knew I’d never have children of my own, but was sure I could offer positive support to a young person, so was delighted when a friend told me about the Young Persons Befriending Service, delivered under the umbrella organisation of Volunteer Glasgow.
After a period of training, I was carefully matched to my first young person, and guided by my allocated support worker. That was back in 2007 and I’ve been working with my current young person for just over six years. We enjoy weekly visits, doing a range of activities based on common interests. Our objective is to have fun, whilst meeting the goals of the befriending match. These goals can range from being a positive, consistent adult to building confidence or providing a break from their normal routine.
As a young person’s befriender, I’ve learned new skills of working with a variety of young people whilst having a lot of fun. I’ve been able to share ideas with fellow volunteers and have had the privilege of working with some great young people and watching them grow and flourish over the years. I’ve even been very fortunate to meet one of my young people years since we last saw each other, and finding that they were now doing youth work.
I’ve enjoyed building an important and trusting relationship with my current young person. When I asked him to reflect on what befriending has meant to him, he told me that having a befriender has made a big difference to his confidence, his ability to manage his emotions and his relationships with adults and other young people. He is now happy to make choices and decisions for himself and has been able to secure a college place and succeed in his chosen course.
At home, his family have noticed that he is more assured, has a reliable friend and someone else to talk to and share with. He’s benefited from access to a range of activities, and time out of his house gives his family some respite and breathing space. From a time when he was isolated within his community, he now has a much more positive outlook on life and is better placed to cope with life as a young adult.
Volunteering as a befriender is of tremendous benefit to everyone involved and is very much needed in our city. There are a huge range of volunteering opportunities in Glasgow- why not take the time to see what you could give back? For just a few hours a week, you could make a huge difference! Volunteer Glasgow will be happy to help!