The Friendship Project – An Overview
The Project is based on the Big Brother – Big Sister movement in America. Established here in 1986, we have helped around 1,000 children. We are active in Southam, Warwick, Stratford, Rugby, Atherstone, Nuneaton. The Friendship Project for Children is a registered charity supported by the Social Services of Warwickshire. We receive grants from various charities, trusts and commercial organisations.
The scheme matches a referred child, the “Younger Friend”, with a volunteer, the “Older Friend.” The Older Friend will provide care and interest for 2 to 3 hours a week. We organise a series of checks to ensure the Older Friend is suitable. Usually the Younger Friend is referred to us by Social Services or the child’s school via the CAF system. We also must have the agreement of the child’s parents or carers. The children we help are aged between 6 and 16. The befriender must be over 18 years of age.
The children who are referred to us are children in need. The child may have problems or the child may be in a situation that creates problems. Social Services, or other referrer, believe an Older Friend will benefit the child.
The aim of the friendship is to develop the child’s interests and confidence, through outings and activities together. Quite simple ideas often suffice. Drawing, playing games, walks in the park and swimming are all popular; it is the caring and interest that matters most.
We have a Committee of Trustees whose members mix enthusiasm with wide-ranging interests and backgrounds, including Education, Social Services, Churches, Youth Clubs and Rotary. Our President is Michael Coker. We provide support for our volunteers and cover expenses. The day-to-day operation is organised by the Area Coordinator who works from a home based office.
We need volunteers to be either Older Friends or Group Supporters. The Older Friends are matched with Younger Friends, and each Group Supporter offers support and advice to a group of Older Friends, usually about 5 or 6. Both these roles normally take 2 to 3 hours a week.
Our aim is to help children in need, but Older Friends have also found the role to be personally very rewarding.
We hope you join us in this very worthwhile work of helping children in need, and please encourage others to volunteer too.