Have your own children have left home and you now have time to do what you want. But are you missing something?
One of the most rewarding things you can do in life is to positively contribute to the life of a child, whether your own or another. To lend an ear and sympathetic voice when it’s needed, to share your interests, and offer guidance in social skills.
If you miss that contact, Family Works Otago Buddy Programme co-ordinators have a suggestion. Become a volunteer Adult Buddy.
That’s the message Presbyterian Support Otago is spreading in order to attract more volunteers to a programme the Tindall Foundation has supported for many years.
Since starting 24 years ago, hundreds of Young Buddies have transitioned from challenging childhoods into adulthood equipped with life skills developed through the mentoring programme.
Buddy Co-ordinator Jo Scott has worked at Family Works for 15 years and witnessed many lasting friendships develop from the programme.
“The one-on-one interaction buddies have creates many happy, positive memories. It’s not unusual for a former Adult Buddy to be invited to a family milestone event of someone they once mentored in the programme,” she says.
“The lasting benefit for a Young Buddy of having someone, who isn’t a family member, be involved in their life, to share similar interests and open their minds to a broader future, just can’t be underestimated.
“The children are on the programme because of various family circumstances but they all need the same thing, one-on-one interaction with someone who has the time to listen, and time to include them in every-day activities where life skills and self confidence are developed,” Jo added.
An Otago mother of four children, two of whom are Young Buddies, says their involvement has seen major improvement in their behaviour.
“Robbie* has changed from being moody and withdrawn to being much more respectful, while Sammy*’s tantrums have stopped. You can see him really thinking through things now rather than just lashing out in frustration. Both boys really look forward to their buddy meetings and come home with big smiles on their faces.”
Being an Adult Buddy involves:
- Spending 2-3 hours each week with a young Buddy
- Being available for at least a year
- Reporting to programme staff and attending a Buddy supervision and support meeting of 1½ hours each month
What’s in it for Adult Buddies?
- Knowing you are making a significant contribution to the young Buddy’s social and emotional well-being
- Training, new experiences, insights and skills
- Ongoing support
- New friends and social connections
To find out more about becoming an Adult Buddy click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone Family Works in Dunedin on 03 477 7116 and ask for the Buddy Co-ordinator in your area.
* Name changed in the story to protect privacy