Having recently completed her degree in Early Childhood Studies and Health Studies at Canterbury Christ Church university, Sophie was determined to work with young people in the community. After a spell of work experience with the Suffolk Befriending Scheme, Sophie knew this was the organisation for her. 'Many of our members are dependent on a parent, or a carer and lack the feeling of independence other people their age might take for granted,' Sophie explains. 'The work that we do goes a long way to giving them this boost of confidence, which is the best type of job satisfaction – knowing that you're making a difference to the quality of someone's life.'
One of the most important elements of Sophie's role will be recruiting new volunteers, between the ages of 16 and 24. With places at university being more sought after than ever, and with competition for local jobs still a challenge, gaining hands on work experience is valuable, now more than ever. 'We're always looking for young people to become befrienders or work in the A Place to Talk (APT) groups across the county,' explains Sophie. 'Our volunteer initiative is a great opportunity for anyone over the age of 16 to gain some unforgettable experience. Whether people get involved to increase their chances of getting into their top university, become more employable, or to simply help others, they will always be welcome.'
Shirley Moore, chief executive officer, at Suffolk Befriending Scheme says 'We've wanted to develop our one to one service for a while, and recruit more young volunteers to link up with our young members as befrienders. We knew that to develop this service we needed a young person who could relate to both our younger members and young volunteers'.
'Volunteering is a worthwhile experience because not only are you giving something back to society and to your local community but you also have the opportunity to meet new people, make friends and engage in new activities. Some of our volunteers have been with us since our inception in 1989, which is testament to the high quality volunteering support we offer.'
For more information on Suffolk Befriending Scheme, call 01787 371333, or visit www.suffolkbefriendingscheme.org.uk.
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