Transparency and safety for the children is paramount to the way we work at the Friendship Project. To this end:
- We only work with children who are referred to us by Social Services and who remain involved with the child’s progress throughout their time with the Project.
- All of Older Friends have to have CRB clearance before being accepted onto the Project and introduced to their Younger Friend.
- See our full Child Protection Policy, here
Relating to the Younger Friend in an appropriate way, given his or her age, level of understanding, past experience, and present situation. Building a one to one relationship based on trust and mutual respect. Acting as a positive role model for the Younger Friend. Primarily you are a Friend who listens, supports and has outings with the Younger Friend, which you should both enjoy.
Your friendship will have the aims of developing confidence and self-belief, widening interests, encouraging skills (however simple) and giving the Younger Friend an outing they enjoy. It may well be that if you achieve all this the Younger Friend will no longer feel that you are needed, but often friendships endure for a number of years.
The first and basic requirement is a weekly meeting with your Younger Friend of about 2-3 hours. This can be at any time, outside of school hours, and can be varied to suit both of you and what you want to do. But it should be weekly unless circumstances make it impossible. In this case, it should be explained, in advance if possible. Friendship depends on mutual trust that cannot be built if the Younger Friend is let down. The place of meeting should more often be away from the Younger Friends and Older Friends home. Do not normally have more than one meeting a week although this can be relaxed for special occasions such as birthdays and for example Christmas.
These Guidelines cannot apply to all situations, and in most situation commonsense will prevail. The relationship will be a developing one and activities will vary depending on the stage of the relationship. Nevertheless, some aspects must be observed as part of the rules and discipline of the Project and these Guidelines cover these points. Your Group Supporter or Area Coordinator will be able to provide advice and guidance at any stage if you are uncertain about what is expected of you.
In this document we use, as a way of explaining what we do and how we operate, a model where the Younger Friend is referred by a Social Worker. However in some cases the referrer may be from another organisation, such as the head teacher at a school or somebody at a children’s home. This is getting more frequent and if this is the method of referring it is always via the CAF (Common Assessment Framework) system.
The adult responsible for the child may be parents, carers or foster parents. Generally we talk of the Younger Friends going on outings, but this may not be possible with some children and the contact may be within the children’s home.
In our years of operation we have had very few problems. However if an incident arises it must be reported. An incident is anything which happens which might harm the child or might be misrepresented or might damage the reputation of the Project. Examples are any possible allegations of abuse, any situation involving use of force, if a child or an Older Friend is injured, if a child runs off or if or there is difficulty with parents or the referrer. In any of these types of situations, where something has gone wrong, then the Older Friend MUST report it to the Area Coordinator. In turn the Area Coordinator must inform the Operations Manager and the Chairman.