Children's charity appeals fo more befrienders in Aberdeenshire as referrals soar

A children’s charity is appealing for volunteer befrienders and mentors in Aberdeenshire as the number of children on the waiting list has soared due to the pandemic.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 6:00 am
Garry Sturrock is urging more people to join him as a befriender.

After reopening their waiting list towards the end of 2020, Befriend a Child has received over 70 referrals for children and young people across Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire in need of a volunteer befriender or mentor.

Garry Sturrock, who joined Befriend a Child’s Befriending programme in January 2015. is urging others to come forward.

After comprehensive training, Garry was matched with nine-year-old Jack, who was referred to Befriend a Child due to difficulties he was experiencing at that time. It was felt Jack would benefit from having a befriender who could help him engage in fun new activities to help increase his confidence and self-esteem.

During their time together Garry and Jack have enjoyed a number of fun activities in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, which have helped Jack strengthen his social skills.

“We have visited museums, an aquarium, the cinema, restaurants, Codonas, attended an ice hockey match and have undertaken activities such as archery, bowling, ice skating, breakout games, paintballing, horse riding and many others,” said Garry.

Jack’s family believe his relationship with Garry and Befriend a Child helped Jack come out of his shell, and Garry has gained a lot from befriending, helping him see the world in a different and more altruistic way.

Garry said: “I’d recommend anyone thinking about it to just take that first step to commit to befriending, immerse themselves in the experience and they will soon see how rewarding the experience is for them and the child they support.

"Seeing Jack over the years standing on his doorstep, eagerly waiting for me and excited about our trip, has genuinely moved me and has driven me to keep the relationship going.”

Volunteers are asked to give a minimum commitment of one year to the young person they are matched with. Volunteer befrienders spending 2-3 hours a fortnight with their befriendee, with mentors spending 2-3 hours a week with their mentee.

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