Family Friends’ volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds and they are selected for their qualities of warmth, empathy and understanding. They use our training and their commitment and life experiences to become a supportive friend or mentor.
In addition to finding it very rewarding and gaining the benefit of learning some new skills, many use their experience of volunteering with us to help develop their own careers. Our volunteers recognise the importance of reliability, confidentiality and trust.
What we ask of you:
- Can you give a few hours of your time a weekly or fortnightly?
- Can you commit for between 3-12 months?
- Are you a good listener with an empathetic nature?
- Can you withhold judgement?
- Have you got good IT skills and your own computer?
- Are you reliable?
- Are you 18+ years of age?
- Have you lived in the UK for the last 2 years?
And in return, we provide:
- Full induction training and ongoing training
- Weekly supervision and support
- The chance to learn new skills
- References provided after 6 months’ commitment
- Reimbursement of travel and project expenses
“I am certainly more aware of the difficulties for many in our society and I feel I have more empathy with families in difficulty” - Hugh
What sort of families does Family Friends work with?
All families have requested a volunteer and have expressed the desire to make positive changes in their lives. Many face such issues as poverty, inadequate housing, poor health, social isolation, depression or challenges around refugee/asylum seeker/new immigrant status. Over 40% have a family member with a disability. Children may be affected by social exclusions, behavioural problems or lack of a positive adult role model. Often our families have become isolated from extended family and friends and need support to reconnect or find new resources.
Studies have shown the effects of the lockdown on families include deteriorating mental health and wellbeing, increased stress, lack of structure, wariness of going outside and into the community, that many have embraced isolation while children have fallen behind academically.
What time commitment does Family Friends ask of volunteers?
- Volunteers meet with the family or young person they are matched with for a few hours either weekly or fortnightly. Visits will either take place within the family home or in the local community e.g. café, leisure centre, park.
- We look for a minimum of three months commitment from our Big Buddies volunteers and a minimum of six months commitment from our Family Befrienders.
- Before being matched to a family, volunteers are all required to attend an interview and complete two days of training.
- Once volunteers are introduced, it is their responsibility to contact the office weekly to give feedback and receive supervision. This can be by email, phone or face-to-face.
“I have learnt many things from this experience including becoming more resilient, not giving up, being more creative and learning to have more patience with myself and others” - Nishamani, Volunteer