A new volunteer to The Friendship Project gave us her comments on being an Older Friend:

In my simplistic words, being an Older Friend, is to help a Younger Friend experience things that they wouldn’t normally do.  Now there are many things that can be included: 1-2-1 adult focus, conversation, being listened to, having fun, building self-esteem, do something new and the list goes on!

I liked the idea of helping to guide and support a young person, spending time with them and having fun; so I bit the bullet and reached out to find more about becoming an Older Friend.  The process started in April/May time and it is now the end of July and tomorrow my Younger Friend and I are meeting for our fourth outing.

Once I was accepted as an Older Friend, I met with our Regional Co-ordinator a few times and we talked about what my interests are, which allows the team to find suitable matches who have similar interests.  We then met again to talk about some potential matches and from those two or three, there was one match that I felt a connection with (be it a name, a similarity to someone I know, something that you’ve experienced; it could be anything but something that just says ‘yeah’ that’s the one.

A meeting was arranged at the school with the Young Friend. We talked a bit about what The Friendship Project’s purpose is and I suggested that the Young Friend had a think about what they like to do and if everyone agreed, we would move forward and start our friendship.

For our first outing, we went for a hot chocolate and I’m not sure if it was the hot chocolate, or my Younger Friend being out with me, but they were very excited! They had thought about the meeting at school and came up with a whole list of ideas of what they would like to do. The list of things to do included; Go Ape, trampoline park, exploring, Tin Pin Bowling, swimming and going boating.

Since then, we’ve gone exploring along the canal and did a scavenger hunt: who could see something red first and whoever spotted something red first,  then chose what the next colour or shape would be.  Visited Ryton Pools and had a walk around; counted six dragon flies, lots of butterflies, five swans and wrote our name in the path using bits of grass.  We’re going to go back at some time and hire bicycles, as you can also ride around the park.

Tomorrow we’re going out for dinner to celebrate them finishing Primary School this week, we may also visit The Range and pick up a book and some pens, so that we can make a memory book of what we do together.  This will not only help me in sharing with the Charity what we’ve done, but also help to make sure we’re doing a variety of activities.

So, after three or four outings, I’m hooked and can’t wait to go to Go Ape, Rock Climbing or one of the many other activities that we’ll experience together.