Lewis recently joined the Aberlour Befriending Young Refugees service in Glasgow as a volunteer befriender. This service was developed to provide social and community support to the increasing number of unaccompanied children and young people arriving in Glasgow and works closely with our Scottish Guardianship Service in the city. A volunteer befriender will support unaccompanied children and young people to overcome the range of challenges often encountered such as language and cultural barriers, poor mental health, the impact of trauma and anxiety about living in a new community and a different country.
Lewis shares his experience of becoming a befriender and why he wished to help young people arriving in Glasgow without their families.
“I wanted to become a befriender with Aberlour as I was aware of the challenges refugees face in the UK. Volunteering as a befriender is an opportunity for me to help make a positive impact on a young person’s life, however small that might be. As I work from home everyday part of the appeal of becoming a befriender to me is its community focus and that it encourages me and my befriendee to take part in different activities in the city and surrounding area.”
“To become a befriender Aberlour provided great training. It was in-depth, relevant, and interesting, including not only useful information on processes, issues, and challenges a newly arrived refugee might experience but also practical guidance on the befriending role. The session on planning trips was a definite highlight. My favourite part was meeting the other volunteers and learning from them. The group was diverse, we all shared our ideas so lots of discussion and learning took place during every session.”
“My first match meeting with my befriendee was slightly nerve-racking but Sarah, the project co-ordinator, helped make the meeting easy and exciting. We were able to get a sense of one another, what the young person was interested in, and what they hoped to get out of the befriending scheme. I’ve been matched with a young person who speaks Arabic. He was referred to the project because he feels very low and finds it hard to leave the house, his Guardian was worried that he was becoming isolated.”
“For our first meeting, we went to play pool in Glasgow city centre, which was my befriendee’s idea. The language barrier is tricky sometimes but playing games together meant we didn’t need to talk all the time. It was a relaxed couple of hours which we both enjoyed. I am looking forward to developing my relationship with my befriendee and helping Glasgow become their home.”