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Lyndsay's Volunteer Story
After starting university and finding my feet I realised there are so many opportunities to take part in volunteer work. I have always wanted to do something worthwhile and it is a chance to gain experience and add extra skills to my CV. I chose to be a Befriender for Praxis, working with young people who are in the process of leaving the care system. I was instantly drawn to this one as working with a young person sounded like it could be fun.
My role as a Befriender is to offer friendship and support to a young person, this mainly consists of spending time together regularly and doing social activities.
After completing my training, I was matched with a young person about six months ago. We have done lots of fun things: cinema, circus, shopping, barbeque on the beach and most recently we went to Todd’s Leap Activity Centre.
Before meeting my young person for the first time I was extremely nervous, all I could think was “What if she doesn’t like me?” however any potential befriender should remember this piece of advice I was given by The Co Ordinator, “No matter what you are feeling, I can guarantee the young person is feeling ten times worse than you are.”
Our first meeting on our own was just a coffee and a chat as we had to get to know each other but after a couple of meetings I think we both relaxed and now we just meet up and chat like I would with any of my other friends.
Becoming a befriender has opened my eyes to other people’s situations, helped me to expand my skills and given me the opportunity to take part in activities that I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise like going on Ireland’s biggest zip slide and 100ft high water slide!
As befrienders we are not responsible for the young people but we have a responsibility to pass on any concerns to The Co-ordinator. She gives me a lot of support and I know that if I am worried or fretting about anything, I just need to pick up the phone. The young people are really appreciative of the time we give. I think it makes a difference to them that we are there because we want to be.
Overall, I think this Befriending Service is a brilliant and beneficial service and sometimes an essential part of the young person’s aftercare experience.
As a potential Befriender I am sure you will have many questions but don’t back away before having them answered in a phone call an email or over a coffee.
I hope by sharing my experiences more people will be encouraged to come forward and be Befrienders.
It’s so easy and definitely rewarding.