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Milestone year for charity

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Milestone year for charity

DUMFRIES and Galloway Befriending Project (DGBP) is marking 25 years of providing invaluable support to youngsters - often at challenging times in their lives - through positive relationships.

It’s a mission which has already seen volunteer befrienders spend more than 100,000 hours with 1500 eight to 18-year-olds – from enjoying adventures together to simply being there to listen.

And it’s one that the organisation is keen to grow as it looks to the next chapter in its journey.

Dumfriesshire Lord Lieutenant Fiona Armstrong joined the team for a celebration at The Usual Place in Dumfries and hailed their life-enriching work as “incredible”, as well as congratulating all involved.

At the anniversary party, thanks were paid to volunteers, staff, supporters and funders for the work they make possible.

It was an event which shone a spotlight on the remarkable difference befriending makes to young lives – with some of those who’ve been befriended taking to the stage with their befrienders to share their experiences.

Speaking afterwards, project manager Helen McAnespie said: “It was incredible to see them on stage sharing their experiences and hearing the difference that befriending has made. It was inspirational, really. It was great having so many of our befrienders together too, to take a moment to thank them for the time they give up to help others. They’re an amazing bunch.”

Helen, of Annan, started work with DGBP in May. She’s well known across the region, having worked in the third sector locally for more than 20 years, latterly as regional manager for older people’s charity Food Train.

While proud of the project’s achievements in its first quarter of a century, she and the team are keen to see its reach widen across the region. To help achieve that, they’re seeking to recruit more befrienders.

“I’ve known about the project for many years and the excellent work that they do supporting young people across the region. That’s what attracted me to this role,” Helen added.

“The demand for the service is only going to grow, especially now that schools have restarted after the summer break.

“We are going to focus on recruiting more befrienders across the region in order to meet the demand for the service that we offer.

“Anyone interested in befriending with us will be supported by one of our experienced befriending coordinators and fully trained before being paired with a young person in their area.”

Befrienders typically give a couple of hours each week to spend alongside the young person with whom they are matched.

Young people are referred to the project in a range of circumstances, including a rough patch in their life, because they’re feeling isolated, unable to access social activities, are affected by bullying, are a young carer or issues at home.

They spend quality time with their befrienders, having fun and enjoying one-to-one attention in a relaxed atmosphere. This can include visits to attractions, as well as simple walks or a bite to eat. These new friendships also provide a non-judgemental adult to whom they can talk confidentially.

These are experiences credited with boosting the confidence and life opportunities of the young people involved.

DGBP chair David Miller said: “This charity’s work is a fantastic success story for Dumfries and Galloway, enriching the lives of young people through befriending.

“It’s clear from the feedback we receive that the work our terrific team does makes such a difference to the lives of young people. It’s so pleasing to hear and we’re thankful to everyone who makes it possible, from our staff and volunteers to funders and other supporters.

“Our ambition is for the charity to go from strength to strength and that we continue to help children in their time of need, when they just need a little support – something which has no stigma attached to it.”

 ANNIVERSARY CAKE . . . Lord Lieutenant for Dumfriesshire, Fiona Armstrong, second left, cuts the cake with three young people who have benefited from the work of the Dumfries and Galloway Befriending Project. From left: Bethany Harris, Sarah Cronie and Kimberly Tranter
  • For more information about the charity and its work – including finding out how to volunteer – call 01387 247812 or email [email protected].


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