Volunteer's Week 2019 - Craig's Story

01st June 2019

Craig has volunteered with Befriend a Child for over 18 years and has befriended 4 children in that time. We caught up with Craig this Volunteer's Week to find out a bit more about his experience as a befriender and why he loved being part of the Befriend a Child family.

What encouraged you to get involved with Befriend a Child initially?
In 2001 I heard about Befriend a Child from a friend who was involved with the charity at the time. I had experience working with children as an officer in the Boys' Brigade and felt that befriending was something I would really enjoy.

I met with the staff at the time to learn about the charity and all these years later I am proud to still be involved. Although Befriend a Child is a far bigger organisation now than it was then, the core values are still the same. Jean, who is Head of Operations, was the first person from Befriend a Child that I met in 2001. 

How would you describe your initial meeting with your befriendee?
Thinking about the boy who I currently befriend the initial meeting can feel a bit daunting. The reality is that it was perfect because the young person is looking forward to meeting you as much as you are looking forward to meeting them. We talked about what he liked and the things we may do together. I remember coming away from the meeting thinking that he was quite a chatterbox and that we would get on just great. I was right.

What sort of activities have you enjoyed with your befriendee?
The boy I befriend has a real interest in animals/insects/fish/dinosaurs etc, with this in mind, many of our outings have been focused around nature. We have gone to Macduff Aquarium, the Zoology Museum, the Science Centre, the Maritime Museum and the many parks in and around Aberdeen. We have also spent countless hours down at the beach simply playing in the sand to see what we can discover. He is fascinated by stones and rocks too. At the moment I am teaching him to swim so we enjoy that too. 

We also go to the local library to read, draw and even build lego. My young friend has faced some challenges at school so going to the library is a calm environment where we can do just a little extra work together which helps him a lot. He really enjoys it there.

We also attend many of the events that Befriend a Child host as it is a great way to meet fellow befrienders and mentors and the children the charity support. The events are always good fun.

What has been your favourite thing to do?
My friend would say eating ice cream or as a treat, going to Carmine's Cafe in Union Terrace. I would say there is nothing we enjoy more than a trip to the Duthie Park on a nice day with a picnic. We have done that many times.

Do you have one favourite memory that really stands out for you as a befriender?
Yes and it happened at the Duthie Park. My young friend decided that he would roll down a large steep slop at the park and I was to watch how fast he could roll down. It was quite a steep slope so he rolled down and gathered quite a speed as he neared the bottom. He then joked and said I had to roll down the hill, and he said it in such a way that he did not believe I would do it. 

Not to be defeated, I rose to the challenge forgetting that I was 'slightly' older than he was! I started my descent, rolling down the slope. As I gathered momentum, I was going at such a speed that people at the bottom fo the slope were running for cover. I eventually came to a stop, stood up and everything was spinning around and around and I felt really quiet disoriented.

Imagine doing that at my age! However, I would do it all again because that's what befriending is all about, 'good fun and happy memories' 

Craig has been an excellent befriender over the years and this Volunteer's Week we would like to thank him for his contributions throughout the years!