Your friendship could help someone in need

EAST Dunbartonshire Council is asking local people to volunteer as befrienders to spend time with young people who are having difficulties in their lives and need a little extra help.

The Young People’s Befriending Service is looking for volunteers to spend time socialising with a youngster, giving them some time out from the stresses and strains of their everyday lives.

Over the last 12 years the service has helped 104 people and there are currently 25 befrienders – but more are needed.

Councillor Michael O’Donnell, convener of the social work committee, said: “Many young people can experience problems at home, at school or in their communities that make their lives difficult or stressful. Befrienders can make a difference by encouraging, listening and supporting them through the rough patches.”

Volunteers befriend young people on a one-to-one basis and go with them on social outings to the cinema, for a bite to eat, to do sports or even just a walk and a chat once every few weeks. The aim is to increase the confidence and self esteem of the young person and to be someone they can trust.”

If you are aged over 18 and would like to find out more about befriending, please call the service on 0141 777 3000.

Volunteers will be asked to attend training every Wednesday for eight weeks, starting on October 27. They will need to provide references, a report from their GP, go through a Disclosure Scotland inquiry and provide information for a background report.

After the training, volunteers are asked to commit to a year with the young person they are matched with. During that time, they will receive expenses for travel, food and the activities they do with the young person.

Councillor O’Donnell added: “The people most suited to befriending are those who are interested in people, are good listeners, are reliable and have three to four hours to commit every two weeks. Often previous experience isn’t needed. It’s more about who you are than what you’ve done.”