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The Friendship Project for Children recruits volunteers who are matched with local children in need of support for friendship and fun. The volunteers take out the child for a couple of hours a week and enjoy outings together. These special friendships have seen improvements in the self-esteem and confidence of the children.
Volunteer Older Friend Simon explained, “I was interested in making a difference to something bigger than my own existence and I love kids and think that childhood is a magical time. I have wanted to do something like working with The Friendship Project for many years but have always put it off or to be honest, been too worried about being able to commit the time or say the wrong thing. Over the last year, I have looked at what makes me happy and helping others makes me feel happy. I am so glad I contacted the Project. Like most worries in life, the worries never actually arise, they are just in your mind!”
Simon was matched with John, who was referred to the Project by a local primary school. They enjoy regular outings, which they plan together. They have been ten pin bowling, swimming, going out to eat, as well as simple outings to the park.
“The Project is truly a fantastic idea for both the volunteer and child. It is run very well, with quality, prompt support when needed. The idea of taking someone else’s child out for a few hours seems strange to most. I didn’t really see what a few hours each week could do. My Younger Friend tells me he now has a best friend and that he has never really felt like he had one before. I can now see the difference I am making,” adds Simon.
John’s parents commented, “Simon is a really nice man and John loves going out with him. Simon does so much with him. John is always in a really good mood when he comes back from his outings.”
“You learn so much about yourself and how much you grow in confidence and self-worth. Being such an important person in someone else’s life, outside of your normal existence and having something so special, that is just yours with them,” Simon concludes.
The Friendship Project for Children is a Warwickshire based charity supporting children aged between 6 and 16 across the county, who are in need of some extra support. Founded in 1986, the charity matches ‘Younger Friends’ with ‘Older Friends’ who provide the children with regular fun, undivided attention, and ongoing friendship for a few hours each week.
Often, the activities which they enjoy together are things the children wouldn’t otherwise get to experience. It can be as simple as a walk in the park or baking cakes together, or more of a treat like a trip to the cinema, swimming or wall climbing. This simple concept has seen the children’s self-esteem grow and even improved their attainment and behaviour at school and in the home. To date the charity has supported around 1500 children, who are all referred to the Friendship Project by children’s services.
If you would like to volunteer with The Friendship Project for Children visit friendshipproject.co.uk/about/how-you-can-help/ or follow them on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook at @friendshipproj.