Befriend a Child talk

ALAN Sanderson, who is Communications & Funding Officer with the Aberdeen based charity “Befriend a Child” paid his second visit to the Rotary Club of Portlethen & District as the guest of local farmer and Past President Donald Robertson, to update members about the expansion of the Charity’s activities into Aberdeenshire.

During his previous talk, a couple of years ago, he had apologised that the service was currently only operating in Aberdeen City, but now he was pleased to say that they currently have 159 children in Aberdeenshire under their sponsorship.

Of these, 39 live in the Portlethen, Newtonhill and Stonehaven area. The good news is that they are currently training up 30 new “befrienders”, while the bad news is that there is a waiting list of 40 boys and 30 girls who are likely to take up to 3–6 months to be placed.

Alan read out the case histories of four children who have recently been referred to his organisation and gave the Rotarians the task of placing the children in order of priority.

This proved very difficult as all were needy children, each with their own problem of isolation, a parent with alcohol or drug abuse problems or simply a lonely, friendless, or bullied child.

The truth is that every case is different and it is very important to match each child and their new friend very carefully.

Training is given to the selected “befrienders” and rules of engagement and boundaries of communication and involvement are considered very carefully.

Quite often an isolated and threatened child is simply looking for someone to take them out and about, to talk to them and to act as a role model.

In varying situations that we might think of as substandard and anti-social, we may still be dealing with a young person who has an unshakable love for the parent or parents involved.

“Befriend a Child” is always looking for new volunteers to train as friends and anyone interested should contact Alan Sanderson on 01224 210060.

Portlethen & District Rotary President Iain McLeod presented Alan Sanderson with a cheque for £300 as a contribution to the Charity’s good work in the area.