Do you want to help your local community but don’t know how? Interested in making a positive impact on a young person’s life? Want to spend your time in a fulfilling and fun way? Then become a Befriender for WECIL! As a volunteer for the Children and Young People’s department at the charity, you will be able to gain new skills, make a real and valued difference and meet new people as part of a community of volunteers.
We currently offer Befriending support to Disabled children and young people aged 5-18 in Bristol and 0-19 in Bath and North East Somerset. You don’t need to have any experience working with children or Disabled people, as we will fully train you on everything you need. So if you’re not getting signed up already, here are our top ten benefits of volunteering your time to a good cause.
1. Gain valuable experience
If you want to build up your skills and experience in children’s work, health and social care or in the third-sector, starting out by volunteering is a brilliant way to get started. You’ll not only learn important skills that will help you with career progression, but you will be able to get an insight on what being involved with an organisation like WECIL is really like. Some of our volunteers have even got youth worker roles with us afterwards. Plus, you will undergo training on Disability equality, managing children, safeguarding and your role and responsibilities – so you don’t need to have any previous experience!
2. That feel-good factor
You know that warm feeling you get inside when you do something to help others, and know that they really appreciate you? Volunteering is a fantastic way to do something positive for the community you live in and feel the benefits.
3. Do something different and fun
Stuck in an office all day? Want to escape the lecture halls? Switch up your usual routine? Becoming a Befriender is a unique opportunity that gets you out of your day job and doing something that is a bit different. No day as a Befriender is the same, and you can take your child or young person on a variety of different trips or activities that you both enjoy. Activities might include trips to the park, cinema, aquarium.
4. Connect with a young person
By spending regular time with your child or young person you will be able to build lasting connections and friendships with them that you both value. Sometimes our Befrienders even build up such strong relationships with their family that they long outlast the funded WECIL service and they stay in touch. You will become a role model, a friend and a companion that they look up to. And don’t worry, because you will be matched to a child or young person based on common interests, age and personality to ensure the link works well for everyone.
5. Build your confidence and communication
As well as helping your young person develop their independence, you will be able to build your confidence at the same time! Volunteering is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and do something new in a supportive way. We have volunteer coordinators that you can speak to, and a network of other volunteers you can learn from.
6. A flexible role
While we ask for a minimum of 8 hours a month, we are flexible in how you spread that out. Perhaps it suits you to do 2 hours a week, 4 hours a fortnight or a longer day less frequently- it is up to you and the family you work with to see what works best! If you’re not based in BANES or Bristol, then we have a telefriender service so you can still make a difference – this is a chat with a Disabled adult or those with long term health conditions over the phone rather than in person. This helps with feelings of isolation, building connections and we ask for weekly calls over 12 weeks. Whilst volunteering all year round helps you build the best relationship with your child and we are actively seeking community members who are around consistently, even if you’re a student or can only volunteer your time in school holidays you can still make a difference.
7. Give something back
By volunteering you are giving more than just your time to your local community. For some families, the only time their child leaves the house might be with their befriender to have a special day out. What is only a few hours for you to take your child to the park can mean so much to them; it is an opportunity to do something they might not normally have the independence or confidence to do and a time for social connection and enjoying themselves! Plus, you will be helping parents and carers have a rare break from their caring responsibilities, knowing that their child is having a good time.
8. Become part of our volunteer community
As a Befriender you will be able to join a friendly group of other volunteers. We run socials throughout the year such as Bingo Lingo, and you can meet up with other volunteers with both your children to help build connections for both of you! We have a dedicated volunteers Facebook group too where you’d be able to share experiences, get advice and connect with other volunteers.
9. We couldn’t do it without you!
Our volunteers are absolutely essential to the services we deliver and the impact we are able to have as an organisation. We rely on your time and generosity to support Disabled children and young people live the lives that they choose. Our befriending service has been running for 50 years and the 1:1 support is invaluable for children who find group sessions more difficult.
10. Contribute toward a wider social movement
WECIL is a Disabled People’s Organisation and supports independent living for Disabled people through services like Befriending. We help Disabled people have choice and control over their lives, not only as a service provider but as a voice organisation fighting for Disabled voices to be heard. By volunteering for us, you can help make a difference and find out more about the wider Disability rights movement.
So whether you’re retired, studying or have a family yourself, befriending is a brilliant way for anyone to make a positive impact on both the lives of Disabled young people and for themselves. Sign up today to help create change via our application form, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions!
For more information and to apply, click the links below or email us at: [email protected]