About Us    

Befriend a Child’s motto is ‘turn a frown upside down’.  We support school-aged children who are growing up in and around Aberdeen in troubled and disadvantaged circumstances. Typically, these are children whose fundamental childhood years have been neglected due to difficult and chaotic situations at home.  They are not problem children, but children with problems which they are not responsible for. 

We match them with a trained volunteer who supports them and helps them develop resilience, self-confidence, self-esteem and to experience more of what life has to offer. Over time, this has a transformational effect.

We are the only dedicated befriending and mentoring service for children in the North East. A recent report by Deloitte identified 8,000 local children in scope for our support and for every £1 we receive we deliver over £6 of benefits to the children and families involved.

Our Services

Children with the greatest need for support are referred to us by Social and Education Services and other third sector partners. We match them with a volunteer befriender or mentor who commits to seeing them for at least one year.  

 

Befriending is for school-aged children.  Befrienders meet their child twice a month, for a few hours to talk, share and have fun.  They aim to develop trust and introduce their child to new experiences, so they can explore what life has to offer and become more confident around their peers. Befrienders help their child overcome the negative impact of habitual rejection.

Transition Mentoring supports children who are moving between primary seven and first year in secondary school. Mentoring is goals orientated and focuses on helping young people engage in education, attain qualifications and/or develop career aspirations and the motivation to achieve them.

intandem Mentoring supports children aged 8 to 14 who are looked after at home and subject to a compulsory supervision order.  The programme is part of a Scottish Government funded national initiative and is delivered at a dedicated safe space away from our base.  The programme aims to help the children develop skills they lack and need to integrate within the community and engage with education.

Our Youth Club, which operates during term time, one night per week, offers group activities and social opportunities for young people in two sessions – Primary and Secondary.

We also run holiday playschemes which cater and provide fun activities for the children during the school break, as well as a summer outing and Christmas party for our children and their befrienders.

Darren’s Story

View Case Studies >

Darren

Darren is 8-years-old and was referred to Befriend a Child because his home life was very unstable.

His parents were in their forties when he was born. Four years later their marriage suddenly broke up and Dad went to live outwith Aberdeen with a new partner. 

Darren only saw his dad infrequently during school holidays and he struggled not having a father figure around. Mum found the situation difficult too and Darren’s behaviour drastically went downhill - so much so that she had to seek some professional help as she struggled to cope.

Then, Darren’s Dad died suddenly last year, leaving him feeling devastated and socially isolated. He was very confused and upset about the whole situation and this began to manifest itself in his increasingly challenging behaviour, both at home and at school.

Darren received counselling regarding his father’s death and also underwent an assessment to see if he had Autism. This was a very stressful time for him with so many professionals asking him questions and taking an interest in his life and he only had his mum to turn to as no other family members live in Aberdeen.

Darren was referred to Befriend a Child by his teacher and was matched with a volunteer befriender, James, in early 2013. Since the start of their befriending relationship there has been a marked improvement in his behaviour and he is far happier in himself than he was before.

James has been a reliable, caring, positive adult male presence in Darren’s life – something he has been missing for the past four years, and particularly since the death of his father.

They have spent time playing football in the park, at the golf driving range, visiting Codonas’ Fun Fair, going to Pittodrie to watch Aberdeen FC and Darren’s favourite, walking James’ dog in the forest.

Darren and James also attended Befriend a Child’s summer outing to a wildlife centre in Perthshire – the first time he had left Aberdeen since the death of his father.

Darren is far more settled now and is getting on much better with his mum and fitting in well at school. He knows that James is there for him to talk to if he ever feels things getting on top of him or is confused with how he is feeling.

Hannah’s Story

View Case Studies >

Hannah

Hannah is 6-years-old. She lives in a one-bedroom flat in a multi-storey block in Aberdeen with her mum who has been known to Social Work since 2009. 

Mum has a history of substance misuse and is currently receiving treatment for heroin addiction through a methadone programme. As a result of her issues, she often shakes and sweats and finds it difficult when taking Hannah out in public as she is very self-conscious and gets embarrassed about her appearance. 

Hannah has been subjected to inappropriate adult conversation throughout her young life and has been exposed to substance misuse since she was born as she has close relatives who are also substance misusers who regularly visit her mum.

As a result of what she has experienced, Hannah is a very quiet girl and can be very guarded as she is worried that she may betray her mum and close family by disclosing information they have asked her to conceal. 

Hannah was referred to Befriend A Child towards the end of 2012 and was matched with a female volunteer befriender, Jane, in January 2013. From the very first home visit they seemed to get on really well and on their first outing they went swimming which Hannah absolutely loved. 

Hannah and Jane also attended the Easter baking session at the Base Unit where they made and decorated lots of fairy cakes in pink icing and sprinkles as Hannah just loves everything pink. She was very excited about taking her cakes home to let her mum see what she had made.


It is still relatively early days for Hannah and Jane, but through Befriend A Child’s services, Hannah is now being given the same opportunities as her peers and is greatly enjoying the new activities - such as going to the cinema, playing in the park and building sand castles on the beach - she and Jane have experienced so far.


As a result of her befriending relationship with Jane, Hannah’s confidence has gradually improved, she has made more friends at school and she is beginning to enjoy life and just being a child again.

Our Base

We are located at 9 Bon Accord Square, just a two minutes walk from Union Street in Aberdeen's city centre. As well as our offices there are three rooms available for use by the children we support and their befrienders:

The Wooden Spoon Playzone

Refurbished and opened in 2017 thanks to a grant we received from The Wooden Spoon Charity, our basement has never looked better!  It's one of the most used spaces in the building.  First and foremost it's a well stocked playroom, complete with books, games and dressing up costumes.  It's also where we run regular volunteer training events and seasonal parties for the children.

IKEA Kitchen

Always a popular room, our bright, new, fully equipped kitchen was kindly donated and fitted by IKEA in 2017.  The room is often booked by befrienders as an activity space for making pizzas, brownies and smoothies. Volunteers are encouraged to share recipes, and of course, any samples for the staff are most welcome!

The Lorraine Craig Room

Named after one of our long-term supporters, this multi-media room is packed full of video games and DVDs. The big TV is often used for film screenings by groups of befrienders and their befrendees.  Popcorn anyone?

This safe space was refurbished in 2017 with money kindly donated by APACHE Corporation.

Sarah Misra

Andi Watson

Business Support Manager

Andi is our Business Support Manager and has been at Befriend a Child since February 2012

His role includes looking after all aspects of the office including:

  • Health & Safety
  • IT
  • Accounts
  • Volunteer Expenses
  • Purchasing
  • Utility Research
  • Application Processing

Outwith work Andi enjoys music of all genres from Rock to Eurovision and even volunteers for Grampian Hospital Radio at  the weekend, eating out, watching Rugby whether it be Scotland or English Superleague team the Leeds Rhinos.

5 Favourite Things

Favourite Food - Thai or Italian

Favourite Holiday - Australia

Favourite Song - Sophie Ellis Bextor - Murder on the Dancefloor

Favourite Childhood Toy - Koala Teddy

Favourite Movie - Mrs Doubtfire

 

Nicola Hodgson

Accounts Manager

Richard Stewart

Head of Marketing & Fundraising

Richard is Head of Marketing & Fundraising and joined the charity in time for the 2016 Children’s Christmas Party. 

He leads the team that raises the funds needed to deliver the charity’s core services and to develop new projects and initiatives. 

Starting out with a career in marketing his first encounter with the charity sector was with Umbro and Comic Relief’s National Keepie Uppie Competition.  He then moved into the charity sector for real and has since helped raise funds for children’s charities such as ICAN and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. 

Away from work he'll be spending time with his lovely wife, Lydia and beautiful daughters Laurie & Bella.  Or playing chess.

 

5 Favourite Things

Favourite Food – Biscuits
Favourite Holiday – Sorrento, Italy
Favourite Song – Electronic Music; whatever’s playing on www.di.fm
Favourite Childhood Toy – I remember always having a toy car or two in my pocket
Favourite Movie – Man on Wire

Hannah Adams

Marketing & Communications Manager

Tara Morrison

Fundraising & Marketing Assistant

Bethany Hogg

Fundraising Manager

Jean Gordon

Head of Operations

Jean is the head of operations for the Charity and oversees the children's services. 

Jean enjoys watching sport, walking her dog and reading. Jean has been with the Charity since June 1999.

Over the years Jean has seen the Organisation grow from strength to strength with not only the change in staff numbers but the massive increase in befriended children.

5 Favourite Things

Favourite Food - Chilli/Rice/Nachos

Favourite Holiday - A cottage in the country in scotland, quite a home bird really

Favourite Song - Aerosmith - I don't wanna miss a thing

Favourite Childhood Toy - Charlie the Monkey

Favourite Movie - Coyote Ugly

 

 

Nicola Milne

Senior Befriending Support Worker

Nicola is the Senior Befriending Support Worker at Befriend a Child. She has been with the charity since April 2008 when she started as a part time Administrator, moving on to a Support Worker in October 2009 and becoming the Senior Support Worker in October 2013. Nicola’s responsibilities include recruiting, training and matching volunteers then supporting the relationship from start to finish.

Nicola, when she is not at Befriend a Child enjoys spending time with her 2 girls. She is terrified of anything with wings and feathers.

5 Favourite Things

Favourite Food - Sunday Roast

Favourite Holiday - Florida

Favourite Artists - Take That

Favourite Childhood Toy - Yellow teddy (liked him so much I sooked his ears off! And I still have him)

Favourite Movie - Ghost

Linzi Bremner

Befriending Support Worker

Linzi is one of our Befriending Support Workers and has been at Befriend a Child since November 2016.

Responsibilities incluse supporting the volunteers, children and families and matching the volunteer befrienders to the children.

5 Favourite Things

Favourite Food - Cheese Burgers

Favourite Holiday - Palma Nova, Mallorca (has been a few times)

Favourite Song - AC/DC Back in Black

Favourite Childhood Toy - A pink corduroy elephant which she sooked

Favourite Movie - You've Got Mail

Sandra McGuigan

Intandem Co-ordinator

Suzanne Watt

Support Worker

Jean Gordon

Head of Operations

Jean is the head of operations for the Charity and oversees the children's services. 

Jean enjoys watching sport, walking her dog and reading. Jean has been with the Charity since June 1999.

Over the years Jean has seen the Organisation grow from strength to strength with not only the change in staff numbers but the massive increase in befriended children.

5 Favourite Things

Favourite Food - Chilli/Rice/Nachos

Favourite Holiday - A cottage in the country in scotland, quite a home bird really

Favourite Song - Aerosmith - I don't wanna miss a thing

Favourite Childhood Toy - Charlie the Monkey

Favourite Movie - Coyote Ugly

 

 

Nicola Milne

Senior Befriending Support Worker

Nicola is the Senior Befriending Support Worker at Befriend a Child. She has been with the charity since April 2008 when she started as a part time Administrator, moving on to a Support Worker in October 2009 and becoming the Senior Support Worker in October 2013. Nicola’s responsibilities include recruiting, training and matching volunteers then supporting the relationship from start to finish.

Nicola, when she is not at Befriend a Child enjoys spending time with her 2 girls. She is terrified of anything with wings and feathers.

5 Favourite Things

Favourite Food - Sunday Roast

Favourite Holiday - Florida

Favourite Artists - Take That

Favourite Childhood Toy - Yellow teddy (liked him so much I sooked his ears off! And I still have him)

Favourite Movie - Ghost

Linzi Bremner

Befriending Support Worker

Linzi is one of our Befriending Support Workers and has been at Befriend a Child since November 2016.

Responsibilities incluse supporting the volunteers, children and families and matching the volunteer befrienders to the children.

5 Favourite Things

Favourite Food - Cheese Burgers

Favourite Holiday - Palma Nova, Mallorca (has been a few times)

Favourite Song - AC/DC Back in Black

Favourite Childhood Toy - A pink corduroy elephant which she sooked

Favourite Movie - You've Got Mail

Sandra McGuigan

Intandem Co-ordinator

Suzanne Watt

Support Worker

Conor Cadger

Youth Worker

COnor is our youth worker, running 4 groups a week in the community.

Favourite food:  Sticky Toffee Pudding

Favourite place to holiday: Madrid

Favourite childhood toy – A build a bear called Jamie Oliver (He had a chefs outfit)

Favourite song – Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Under The Bridge

Favourite film – Grinch

John Brebner

Len Ironside CBE

Chairman

Colin Reid

Donna Liddle

Shona Alexander

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Turn A Frown Upside Down

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