This month Dumfries and Galloway Befriending Project celebrates 15 successful years enriching young people’s lives through friendship and activities between caring adult volunteers and children or young people in need of support.
The Befriending Project began life in September 1997, initially covering a 25 mile radius of Dumfries. Over the years it has expanded and now recruits, trains and supports volunteer befrienders across the entire region.
Adult befrienders give a few hours a week to spend one-to-one time with “their” young person, taking part in everyday activities or simply providing a listening ear or respite from a stressful home situation.
Volunteer befriender Sandra Collett, from Creetown, says: “It is a privilege to be able to get to know and gain the trust of a young person, and to feel that you are making a positive difference to their lives. Not only does the young person benefit from extra time spent on a one to one basis, there is a lot of pleasure to be had giving your time. Lots of outings cost very little, just your time and a lot of patience. I have found it very rewarding. Sometimes it’s just a walk along the river, to the park, feeding the ducks or a go on the flying fox. We have a lot of fun.”
To mark their 15th anniversary, the Befriending Project is inviting members of the public to become a FRIEND of BEFRIENDERS. They are appealing for individuals who would like to help with fundraising events or activities. They would also welcome anyone with practical or professional skills. To find out more about Friends of Befrienders, please visit the Befriending Project website at www.befriending.org or telephone management committee member and volunteer befriender,Ruth Nicol on 01671 820255. Alex Fergusson MSP, a longterm supporter of the Befriending Project, comments: “Two days after I won the constituency vote in the Scottish Parliament elections of 2003 by the heady majority of 99 votes, I joined the Dumfries and Galloway Befrienders on a day at the Barcaple Outdoor Centre to undertake a course of challenging obstacles ranging from sliding down a zip-wire to crawling through muddy and decidedly damp drainpipes. Never have I been brought down to earth more quickly – many things were put firmly in perspective for me that day, and I have been an ardent fan of the Befriending Project ever since. It is all about building confidence in, and empowering, some very vulnerable young people. I have seen it in action and yes – it works.
“Befriending requires commitment, patience, understanding, love, selflessness and time, and it is certainly not for everyone. But everyone can contribute by becoming a Friend of Befrienders – I know you will be welcomed with open arms, and I can think of no better way of celebrating the Befrienders 15th Birthday than by signing up and supporting the project as a ‘Friend’.
Happy 15th Birthday to the DGBP.”