Shannon joined Befriend a Child as a volunteer befriender in March 2020 after having heard about the opportunity through her workplace Saltire. Having previously worked in a nursery setting, Shannon missed the rewarding feeling of watching a child grow and learn new skills. She was inspired to become a volunteer befriender as she knew she would be supporting a local child who needed it most.

Following training with Befriend a Child Shannon was matched with 8-year-old Jennifer, who was referred to Befriend a Child as she was experiencing some difficult circumstances at home which had impacted her self-esteem and confidence, leaving her feeling socially isolated. It was hoped that having a befriender would increase Jennifer’s confidence, give her a friend to talk to and help her feel like part of a community.

As Shannon and Jennifer’s befriending relationship began at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, they didn’t have the chance to experience as many of the typical outings in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, but this hasn’t stopped them having a great time.

The majority of our outings have been in my befriendee’s local area due to COVID. Despite the restrictions we have enjoyed a number of outdoor activities such as; picnic’s in the park; cycle’s along the beach; painting rocks; lunch, drawing pictures, carving pumpkins, nails & makeup in a local cafe; boogie boarding in the snow. When we managed to get out for a few outings it was at Jump-In, swimming and visiting Santa which she LOVED!

Thanks to her consistent fortnightly meetings with Shannon, Jennifer is growing in confidence and is frequently in high spirits, always excited about her next outing with Shannon and the new experiences she embarks on with her befriender.

“The confidence in my befriendee is growing as she is being given the opportunity to speak, play and listen to someone who isn't from her household. Which in turn gives her the opportunity to express herself freely and have a different point of conversation. I received feedback from my befriendee’s parents that she has been using her manners more which is lovely to hear.”

“It has been fantastic to see the difference that Shannon has made to Jennifer, especially during the pandemic. Jennifer was socially isolated prior to Covid-19 and although outings have been limited due to Government Guidelines they have both thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each other and are looking forward to being able to do so much more over the coming months, which in turn is going to be amazing for Jennifer's confidence and self-esteem.” – Befriending Coordinator

Shannon has now been befriending for over a year and plans to continue supporting her befriendee as she feels it is a worthwhile and rewarding way to spend her spare time.

“For anyone who has around 6 hours spare in a month and is looking to make a difference in such a FUN & REWARDING way! This is definitely the best way to do it. A child / young person will love spending time with you. You get to relive your youth with them and show them what you did when you were their age!”

If you have been inspired by Shannon and Jennifer’s story, please email [email protected] for more information.