Before becoming a civilian I was running a Troop of young soldiers who came to me with their problems and in need of character development. Post retirement, and with time on my hands I felt the need to put something back into society along similar lines and the Friendship Project fulfilled that role perfectly.
Jake and Tom
Their school had concerns about the demeanour of eight year old Jake and stated that he walked around with the weight of the world on his shoulders and said that nothing really made him laugh. The school also had concerns about his seven year old brother Tom who said they never go anywhere or do anything. Their single Mum, who is also raising a much younger sibling was struggling with Jake’s behaviour.
I hit it off with Jake, who constantly said ‘I’m bored’ and Tom the first time we met. They are two very energetic boys who wanted to get out of the house and have fun and our friendship began.
We go to the cinema, take their bikes with us when we visit St Nicholas’s park, attend all day sports days during holidays and they love going to Hatton Country World. I take a picnic for them on our outings, a wrap with chicken and BBQ sauce for Jake and a wrap filled with coleslaw for Tom. There are also grapes, a cube of jelly (they take it in turns to choose the flavour), a chocolate bar, cheese and onion crisps and a drink (no added sugar) of their choice, currently strawberry flavoured water, and an ice cream if they behave.
Jake and Tom look forward to our weekly outing, as I do but at the beginning of our friendship I was struggling with their behaviour, but as time has gone on the little nudges, and sometimes the big nudges began to work (with the help of their loving Mum) and their behaviour has improved. I play crazy golf with them, drive my own bumper car and have as much fun as they do, and particularly enjoyed, like them the new Jungle Book film. It’s so wonderful to see them grow in stature and confidence, they constantly laugh and play together, have healthy sibling rivalry, and I can’t remember the last time I heard Jake say, ‘I’m bored’.