Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000

Supported by: Arthur J. Gallagher

Description

The aim of Friendship Project is to provide 121 befriending support to disadvantaged children referred by Children's Services or local schools to improve their self-esteem, confidence and enable them to have some fun in a safe environment. Our volunteers, called Older Friends, give a minimum commitment of six months to their Younger Friend, to take them out every week for 2/3 hours. This takes place outside their home, with mutually enjoyable and jointly planned activities and visits. Examples include: playing in the park, walking on the canals, cooking, fishing, ride on a train, eating out, football, bird/nature watching, golf, sewing, library, swimming, cinema, museums, local events, growing vegetables etc. which their school contemporaries take for granted. Volunteers maintain that the 1:1 attention, with the capacity for the child to talk to a listening adult, is the most valuable aspect of the activity

The average length of a friendship is 2.5 / 3 years and over time the Younger Friend gradually becomes more open and confident in discussing worries and concerns about family, school, friends and themselves. Older Friends offer support and, increasingly, guidance on more sensitive and personal issues. This has helped Younger Friends gain a better understanding of their problems; develop better relationships with family members; and cope more positively with challenging situations at school.

Positive feedback and encouragement, invariably missing in the child's life, is a constant feature of the weekly activities and of major importance in raising self-esteem. This usually results in the young people developing new interests and acquiring a wider range of skills. There is established research that demonstrates that troubled and unsettled childhoods can increase the likelihood of both mental and physical illness in adult life.

Additionally we organise 4/5 collective activities per year, which children and volunteers can participate in, helping to broaden their life experiences, with new fun challenges, improve social interaction, building friendships , plus we organise events for the adult volunteers interaction too, and to help with their ongoing training and support.

Over the last 32 years we have a proven track record of helping children. Helping to support over 1,000 children locally since founded. Recently Children’s Services said that “we were one of their most reliable and longstanding partners in the third sector”. We obtain regular feedback from our volunteers via their group supporters, and volunteer reports, additionally we carry our periodic home visits to/with the child's home/ carer, plus liaise with and periodically attend Early Help meetings, so as to monitor progress and the positive impact we are having.
Two examples:-
Jack had suffered the loss of both parents at a very young age (now lives with his grandparents) and was deeply traumatised, with attachment difficulties, when our OF started to take him out (4.5 years ago). He never smiled, was bullied at school and found it difficult to make friends. Emotionally and socially he is still way behind his peers and he has struggled with the move last autumn to senior school. However, with the support of his Older Friend – who has reassured him that she will continue to see him for the rest of her life, if he wants her to - he is a happier boy now who has friends, laughs and can take a joke and goes to roller disco on Saturday nights.
Carly had been bullied at school, and then went onto self harm with an eating disorder. Our volunteer built up her confidence she attended a show at Playbox theatre, she was fascinated by children acting. We were able to obtain funding for acting lessons in a small group, her self-esteem increased, and she returned to sixth form and is now studying drama.

Additional funds are needed to help/support the charity expand and reduce the waiting list for disadvantaged children locally in Warwickshire

Project Video

Friendship Project for Disadvantaged Children

Moment of Pride

I am immensely proud to be associated with this extremely worthwhile charity helping disadvantaged children locally, and seeing the impact of the befriending on their live experiences in a supported and fun way. and able to see the improvement in both self esteem, and confidence whilst having fun

Location: Warwickshire, UK