Appeal for befrienders

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A charity which matches adult befrienders with vulnerable and disadvantaged young people is making an appeal for new volunteers in Wigtownshire.

Dumfries and Galloway Befriending Project is particularly keen to hear from potential volunteers in the Stranraer area, where the service is still being developed, having expanded into the town just two years ago.

The charity recruits, trains and matches adult volunteers who, in turn, are matched one-to-one with individual young people aged between eight and 18. Once matched, the befriender commits to spending a few hours a week or fortnight with “their” young person, spending time building up a relationship and taking part in shared activities.

“Children and young people referred to the project may be experiencing difficulties at home, school or in the community and the time spent with an adult befriender can provide vital individual attention and release from day-to-day pressures,” explains Stranraer coordinator Julie Turner.

“Having and working with a befriender can help the young person tackle difficulties before they get too big. The young people benefit from the energy and enthusiasm of their befrienders and gain confidence from forming a positive relationship with a supportive adult,” she adds.

Volunteer befrienders come from all walks of life. You may be a student, a parent yourself, or an older person with time on your hands. The most important factors are that you have an interest in young people, you are reliable and have some time to spare.

Young people are referred to the project by a number of agencies and organisations, including social services, education and health professionals.

Julie, who is based at Park Children’s Services in Ashwood Drive, adds: “Reasons for referral to the project can vary enormously. The young person may be experiencing problems at home, school or in the community. Their problems may be compounded by rural or social isolation.

Our experience is that having a befriender who will commit to spending a few hours a week or fortnight with them- to share enjoyable activities or simply have time to chat – can make a world of difference in a young person’s life. It can also be a very rewarding and often fun experience for the adult befriender. ”

Volunteer befrienders receive full training, support and all out-of-pocket expenses. Training is expected to start in March, running one evening a week for six weeks, in Newton Stewart and Stranrarer. If you are interested in finding out more about being a befriender, please contact Julie (01776 703529) for an informal chat.