Volunteering FAQ

We have put together a list of some of the more common questions we can be asked. If you'd like to speak to a member of staff about anything else, you can reach us on 020 8960 9099 or by emailing volunteer@familyfriends.uk.com

Questions About You

What skills/experiences do I need to become a befriender/mentor volunteer?

We look for volunteers who are good listeners with an empathetic nature, who are able to withhold judgement. It is crucial that you are reliable and able to fulfil the time commitment. You do not need to have worked with families before; we welcome volunteers from all backgrounds who are ready to use their life experience to become a befriender/mentor. We will support you all the way.

Am I too old/too young to be a befriender/mentor?

You must be 23 years old to apply to volunteer with Family Friends and there is no upper age limit.

What kind of time availability do I need to have?

You’ll need to be available to do a 2 hour visit weekly; this does not include your travel time. Some parents prefer support during the weekdays when children may be at school. Child Befriending normally takes place after school in the week, or on the weekends. Volunteers commit to working with a family for a year. We do occasionally accept a commitment of six months, which must be agreed before being matched to the family.

Can I go away on holidays and miss a visit?

Absolutely! It’s fine to miss up to four visits a year due to holiday. Anymore and we ask you to make up the time with some longer visits to the family. If you are planning on going away on holiday, do let your Family and Volunteer Coordinator as well as the family know.

Can I become a befriender/mentor if I have a criminal record?

Due to the nature of our work, Family Friends is unable to take on volunteers who have convictions (custodial or non-custodial) of less than 10 years old. Driving offences may be exempt from this. Please include all convictions on your application form. If you are unsure and would like to discuss this further please give us a call on 020 8960 9099.

What do you take into consideration when matching a mentor/befriender to a family?

We carefully match families and volunteers based on skills, interests and personality rather than ethnic and cultural background. We also take into consideration your time availability.

Questions About Volunteering

What’s the difference between Parent Befriending and Child Mentoring?

Parent Befriending is working directly with a parent/carer of a child aged 0-16 years. The rest of the family may also be at the home during visits. Child mentoring is working directly with a child aged 10-16. When mentoring a child, we ask that you spend 15 minutes each visit with the parent/carer. Our support is holistic and so both programmes are designed to have impact on the whole family.

How will I be trained?

We run four/five 14-hour courses a year with a maximum of 10 people per course. They usually take place on two consecutive Saturdays. The course is compulsory for all Family Friends’ volunteers. The training has an interactive format, with teaching, discussion, games, quizzes, case studies and role play. The focus of the course is on ‘active’ listening skills, the role of a befriender and ‘how to empower a family’. We also invite a current volunteer to the training to share their experience. The training is part of our selection process and also an opportunity for volunteers to discover if they wish to be part of Family Friends. Each attendee receives a Volunteer Training Folder containing relevant information and learning tools.

How will I be supported?

Each volunteer is assigned a Family & Volunteer Coordinator who oversees their work. Volunteers are required to contact their Coordinator within 2 days of each weekly visit to give feedback and receive supervision. This is normally done through email or phone conversation, depending on the situation. Face-to-face supervision may be given on occasion.

Volunteers are required to attend informal evening support group meetings every 3 months, where on-going training is offered by expert speakers. The meetings last for approximately 90 minutes and include refreshments and the chance to receive peer-to-peer support.

If you opt to receive them, we send volunteers newsletters, containing information on activities, courses and relevant resources.

How long will it take to be matched to a family?

After successfully completing the two-day training, it normally takes 2 to 8 weeks. This can vary depending on how quickly we receive your references and DBS certificate. Also, the greater your time availability, the quicker it will be to match you.

Do I have to pay for activities and outings?

You are able to claim back your expenses. The maximum amount that can be claimed per visit (including your travel) is £8 (for Parent Befriending) or £11 (for Child Mentoring). Family Friends has a small budget for volunteers and families to have one ‘treat’ visit every 8 to 12 weeks, where there is a larger budget. We aim to do low cost sustainable activities with families.

Recruitment Process

You apply to volunteer

You will be asked to fill in your personal details and questions about your availability and interests.

We contact you

Family Friends’ staff telephone prospective volunteers to discuss their application.

You attend an interview

Volunteer interviews take place at our office or virtually, lasting approximately one hour.

We check your eligibility

For police checking purposes, prospective volunteers must have lived in the UK for the last 2 years and must not have travelled abroad for over 6 months in either year.

We get references

We will ask you to provide details of two referees who we can speak to. We will need one personal referee and one professional referee (e.g. current or past employer, previous volunteer manager).

We submit an enhanced DBS check

Applicants complete an enhanced DBS check with access to information held on the DBS children and adults barred list. This is necessary as the role involves regulated activity with adults and children. As a Registered Body with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), we adhere to the DBS Code of Practice under section 116A of the Police Act 1997, last updated 16 November 2015 (available on request). We cover all associated costs for this check.

Successful applicants are invited to attend the next training session

Our training is two full days, spread across weekends and weekdays. We run a few sessions so you should be able to fit it into your schedule.

You're matched with a family or young person

Once references and police check have been approved, and after discussing a prospective family with the volunteer, an introduction visit will be arranged. It may take 2-3 months from submitting the application form to being matched with a family. This depends on training dates, swift return of the police check and references and an appropriate family being available.