Tackling Child Abuse Project Interview: Linzi Bremner "Volunteers share some amazing feedback, telling me about the fantastic and nurturing relationships they are building with their young people. Children have learnt to develop their trust with their befriendee which is a huge step for them as, for some of them, their trust has been completely broken with adults." We sat down with our Tackling Child Abuse Project Lead, Linzi Bremner to discuss the vital project and how it is supporting local children and young people across Aberdeen City and Shire. Can you tell us a bit more about the Tackling Child Abuse project you’re working on at Befriend a Child? The Tackling Child Abuse Project, supported by The Volant Trust works within the befriending programme but is specifically for children who have been referred for experiences of abuse, neglect and domestic violence. We carefully match these children with volunteers who will take them out twice a month and hopefully work to build a safe and trusting relationship together. Volunteers in this project are offered bespoke training opportunities to reflect the sensitive nature of the trauma their befriendee may have experienced but we also offer volunteer get togethers on a six monthly basis. This allows volunteers the chance to share experiences and access peer support. What are the biggest challenges you face within the project and how is Befriend a Child working to support that? Practically, the biggest challenge would be ensuring that the volunteers are offered regular additional training to help them when supporting a child in the Tackling Child Abuse Project. Due to the sensitive nature of the project, training can sometimes be hard to access and find. This may also mean that children are more likely to be involved with social work, the Children’s Hearing system and therefore their care arrangements are more than likely to be altered due to their experiences of abuse and neglect. Some children are placed with family members who are out with the area of or may be moved to foster carers down in the central belt which then leads to the befriending coming to a close which can be extremely upsetting for everyone involved. What impact have you seen in the children and young people as a result of the project? Volunteers share some amazing feedback, telling me about the fantastic and nurturing relationships they are building with their young people. Children have learnt to develop their trust with their befriendee which is a huge step for them as, for some of them, their trust has been completely broken with adults. One volunteer struggled with the young person showing anger often on outings which was indicative of the trauma he had suffered. This behaviour has now greatly improved as he has learned that he is safe with his befriender and she won’t let him down. This is further shown by a story a volunteer passed on regarding her and her befriendee going down a giant slide which she was too scared to do before but with her befriender’s support, she felt able to conquer her fears. “She knows I am taking on board her interests. K has delayed speech but between us we have worked a way to communicate so K’s thoughts and opinions are heard!” “She chats away with me and is more confident to engage with peers and adults too on our outings which she never would have done before. She even made a few friends at the Summer Outing and we have had a few joint outings together.” What are your future goals for the Tackling Child Abuse Project? The Tackling Child Abuse Project continues to go from strength to strength and we endeavour to work for this to progress by reaching even more children who are in need. Our goal would also be to provide more training and support opportunities for volunteers so that they feel better equipped to support a young person who has experienced trauma through abuse and neglect and have a better understanding of how this can present itself in a young person. Personally, I would be very interested in creating a collaboration with an organisation that supports individuals from these backgrounds and has resources we could tap into to ensure we are all well informed and supported whilst aiding the young people. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you enjoy about your role at Befriend a Child? I have been with the charity for six and a half years as a Support Worker, then a Volunteer Coordinator and now a Senior Befriending Co-ordinator! I have been involved with the Tackling Child Abuse Project for several years now and to see how far it has come is extremely satisfying. I am also a befriender and have been taking out my befriendee for 6 years now which has been one of the best things I have ever done! I am also lucky enough to be allowed to bring in one of my dogs to the office and Poppy is our office dog. In my spare time I like to go out for food with friends, take part in escape rooms, read novels and watch boxsets.