Be a pal and volunteer as a Buddy

Somerset County Council is seeking enthusiastic volunteers who can give just a few hours per week to help improve the lives of the county’s most vulnerable young people.

The Council’s Youth Offending Team recruit volunteers for a number of projects, not just to help young offenders but also to support other vulnerable young people in Somerset. The service is currently looking for volunteers for their Buddy Project.

“My buddy completely changed my chances” said Charlotte Bligh, a Buddy who benefited from the programme herself over five years ago.

The young people that the Buddy Project helps, usually aged 13 to 19, may be struggling in school, have a difficult home life, or may need help gaining confidence or becoming more independent.

By linking them up with a volunteer, the scheme offers regular support and encouragement from a friendly face. In time this can help them achieve their full potential.
Charlotte, from Bishops Lydeard, said: “This project did so much for me when things were difficult and I felt my life was in a mess. My Buddy completely changed my chances and what she did means the world to me, if I hadn’t had her support and belief in me I know my life now would be very different. I am now a buddy myself and enjoying being able to help someone the way someone helped me and I am looking forward to one day being able to do this type of work for a living.”

Caroline Elliott, from Taunton, was matched with Charlotte when she first needed a Buddy. She said: “The thing I’ve realised through doing the buddy scheme is that it has changed me as much as Charlotte. It creates a relationship that I didn’t think was possible. I just think it’s a really good thing to do if you have some time.”

Cllr France Nicholson, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “Anyone looking for the opportunity to volunteer with young people should look no further. The Buddy Project is a wonderful scheme that provides vulnerable young people with a friend who can support them through life’s struggles and give them encouragement when they achieve.

“With all volunteering there are challenges, but also great rewards that benefit the young person, the volunteer and, ultimately, the whole community.”

Anyone aged 21 and over can be a Buddy. All they need is enthusiasm, a desire to help young people and a few hours per week to spare. Training and expenses are provided and the project provides a great experience for potential career progression.

For more information or to get involved phone 01458 440820 or email streetvolunteers@somerset.gov.uk