A WINCHESTER charity has welcomed five new volunteers who have recently completed its befriender training course and are now ready to befriend a child in the district.

Following successful interviews with Friends of the Family, Clare, Marion, Karen, Susan and Jane were invited to take part in the befriender training programme, which was delivered by Sam Hunt, Friends of the Family’s Befriending manager.

The intensive two-day course covered all aspects of the befriending role including safeguarding, communication and listening skills, issues facing children today, boundaries, confidentiality and the benefits of befriending.

The new recruits also met current befriender, Fern, who became a befriender following retirement and has been with Friends of the Family for two years. Fern gave an insight into her befriending experience, the range of activities she undertakes with her focus child such as dog-walking, golf and kite-flying and the positive impact these experiences have on the child’s confidence. She was also able to answer questions from the volunteers.

When asked why she applied for the role, new volunteer Clare said: “Having previously worked with children for many years, I miss interacting with them and the different perspective on life they have. I know there are many challenges facing young lives at the moment, often outside of their control and I am keen to contribute to lessening those challenges by being a listening ear and positive role model, as well as giving a child new and fun experiences. I am pleased to be able to give some of my spare time for such a good cause and also to support a local charity and local children.”

Sam added: “We are so pleased to welcome five new befrienders to our 5s to 13s team. We cannot wait to introduce them to a local child and their family and get them started with this unique role. The gift of their time is invaluable and makes such a difference to the children and their parents at a time when it is needed most.”

To find out more about volunteering with Friends of the Family go to www.fotfwinchester.org or call 01962 864466.