Simply; supported friendship between two or more individuals; a volunteer and a refugee or asylum seeker who feels isolated and alienated
Befriending offers a unique experience for young people and volunteers, because a key feature of the arrangement is that the relationship which develops is a social, not a professional one.
As a result, some of the benefits for the young people are:
- A greater degree of self confidence and emotional growth
- A greater capacity to form and maintain relationships
- An enhanced ability to make use of their own personal resources and access wider community resources
Volunteer Befrienders are expected to give a commitment of at least 6 months as they end up forming an important part of a young person’s life or pathway plan. During this period, they are expected to give at least 2 hours a week, or fortnightly prior to arrangements.
How can befriending help?
Regular Befriender contact can:
- help reduce feelings of isolation;
- give young people times to look forward to;
- increase feelings of self worth, trust and confidence with others;
- provide opportunities for new interests and involvement.
The people most suited to befriending are those who are interested in other people, are good listeners, are reliable, and have 2-3 hours to commit each week. Often previous experience is not needed. It’s more about who you are than what you’ve done. Befriending is a chance to give something as a volunteer through your time and commitment.
Volunteer Befrienders’ contribution
Volunteer Befrienders have aided in taking our project forward by building stronger links with the local community and help to encourage cooperative relationships between the young people who might not otherwise interact whilst undertaking a wide range of activities and helping to promote inclusive communities.
Having a Volunteer Befriender can help young asylum seekers deal with some of the difficulties they face. It can have the following benefits;
- Receiving individual attention and having someone to talk to and share problems with can help build a young persons confidence and reduce their loneliness and isolation.
- Having fun, for example, going to the cinema, swimming, playing football, or day trips can be a great release from worries.
- Receiving practical advice and helping young people integrate with their community and building their confidence.
- Volunteers give extra hands and minds, and so the potential to do more than could be done simply with limited salaried staff. This might mean an increased amount of service, expanded hours of operation, or different and new types of services.
- They bring diversity to the project which is great for the young people as they all come from several different backgrounds .This translates into many more points of view and leads to a counterbalance.
- They bring various skills that complement the ones employees or other volunteers already possess and the outcome is we have every skill or talent necessary to do all aspects of the job.
Benefits to Volunteer Befrienders
- The satisfaction of helping another young person,
- Increased knowledge and understanding of issues facing young refugees and broadening cultural understanding,
- Personal development through supporting a young person,
- Acquired new skills, for example, communication skills which will also support their CV,
- Befriending training and Certificate, which is nationally recognised and presented by the Red Cross, Social Skills, Management Skills, Team Working.