Our referral criteria is relatively broad and encompasses any young person living in Orkney who is vulnerable or isolated. We want to be able to support as many young people struggling as possible. Befriending isn’t the right fit for every young person though, so the co-ordinator will contact you after receiving your referral to discuss more thoroughly the young person’s needs and abilities.
The success of a match rests largely on how well each young person is matched. This means that the Project can’t operate a first come first served waiting list. Need is of course taken into account, alongside compatibility, geography, interests, likes and dislikes, volunteer availability etc. Some young people are matched within a couple of months of being referred, while others may wait for multiple months, possibly even years.
All volunteers are welcomed onto the team subject to PVG checks, the receipt of satisfactory references and the completion of our training course in full. Our foundation training course consists of two full days of training covering a wide range of topics from confidentiality, to support and supervision, to listening and communication skills.
Each match is reviewed after the first 6 weeks, and then every 6 months. At each review the Co-ordinator meets with the young person, volunteer and parent/carers and gathers their views and feedback on the match. The co-ordinator also offers an open door policy, so everyone involved in a match can get in touch with concerns or feedback at any time.
Each match is tailor-made and unique. This means that each match chooses the activities that they would like to do together from their shared interests. So that could be badminton, football, zumba, swimming, knitting, programming, visits to cafes, the cinema, the beach, anything really. If we can risk assess it to make it safe, then you can probably do it.
A befriending match working successfully relies quite heavily on matching the young person really well. This means that our waiting list doesn’t operate as first come first served because it largely depends on the volunteers that we have available to be matched. We do of course take need into account, though we also need to consider compatibility, geography, volunteer availability, interests etc.
Waiting times vary quite markedly. This is because of the complexity of matching and the way that our waiting list works. Some young people could be matched within a couple of months of referral, while others may wait considerably longer, into years rather than months. It’s possible that some young people on the waiting list may never be matched – there are always more young people waiting than volunteers available. We endeavour as far as possible to make waiting times as short as possible.