30+ years of befriending

1 November 2020

Our organisation, now known as Befrienders SCIO, was born out of a desire to be able to offer vulnerable children and young people throughout Argyll and Bute additional support. 

30 Years BefriendingThe need for a different type of support was highlighted, and a steering group was formed, made up of concerned members of the public and professionals working in the childcare field. From this an organisation was set up in 1989. We are still here over 30 years on.

The main aim of Befrienders SCIO is to ensure that the young people across Argyll and Bute have the best opportunities available, and the confidence and self-belief to follow up on those opportunities. We work closely with other voluntary services and with our colleagues in statutory services.

I feel privileged to have been “in on the ground floor” since the beginning. Now, as I am about to retire, I have been asked to reflect on the years of befriending and changes/similarities that I see.

I have been involved over the years in many capacities, member of steering group, committee member, volunteer befriender, Project Worker and now Project Manager, so I have seen befriending from all angles!

Over the years I have met and worked along side many wonderful people, colleagues, volunteers and families.

As with any voluntary organisation, we could not offer a service without our volunteers, so I would like to say a huge, heartfelt “Thank You” to all of those people who have given freely of their time, talents and energy. Our volunteers are not only befrienders but also our Management Committee over the years.

For me personally, Befriending is a simple concept: offering a supportive adult volunteer to support a vulnerable child or young person within their own community.

The relationships in our organisation are not time limited, this is governed by what the befriendees require and what the volunteer is able to offer. Some matches last for several years, some several months.

Because we cover such a huge geographical area our volunteer numbers vary from area to area. There is no regular pattern to this variation, it just depends on who is available with a bit of time to give. This has not changed over the years.

This current situation of Covid-19 has meant great changes to the way we operate. For a time, our volunteers and paid staff could not meet with our young people and their families. As restrictions changed we responded to these accordingly.

Once again, our volunteers were wonderful. They kept in touch with their befriendees by mail, email, text messages, whatever suited the young person. We as staff have embraced Zoom meetings and all the other technical wizardry available to keep up with our colleagues and families!

I have had a very happy 30 years being involved with Befrienders and befriending and wish my successor and my colleagues well for the future.

Cathi Bertin