Celebrating 20-Years of the Family Works Buddy Programme

By PSS | Posted: Thursday November 14, 2019

We were proud to celebrate over twenty years of the Family Works Buddy Programme in 2018 by having a special evening of celebrations with more than sixty people from the Presbyterian Support Southland Trust board members to past and present Big and Little Buddies.

The Buddy Programme contributes to the wellbeing of children aged 4-12 years, by providing friendship and support to children whose life experiences may see them benefiting from extra adult support. The Big Buddies are recruited, including vetting and training prior to being matched with their Little Buddies, to ensure a strong friendship and support system is created. Amanda Paterson is Family Works’ longest serving Big Buddy and has been with the programme for 17 years.

Amanda joined the programme after seeing an article in her local newspaper and applying with her husband Lex. Since then they have been matched with several children. When asked what three words Amanda would use to describe being a Big Buddy, she declared: “Mentor – Giving a child different experiences in a positive way, within boundaries. Giving of my time. I like the idea of a hand up rather than a hand out. “Experiences - Encouraging a child to try new activities.

Also letting them help with normal family activities, like feeding animals and meal preparation.” “Empathy – Showing care, concern & kindness.” The children, all under the age of twelve, are referred to the Family Works Buddy Programme for a number of different reasons. The majority of children could benefit from extra adult support and friendship which is exactly what they receive from their Big Buddies.

Amanda recounted just a few of the things she regarded as the most rewarding aspect of being a Big Buddy, and what she is most proud of, including providing a positive influence and a community for young children. “The most rewarding part is being able to interact with a young child and having the potential to have an influence on a child’s life, and the feeling of giving to the community that I live in”. 

“I want them to feel like they have someone who can give individual attention to them and I hope that these things help my Little Buddies to gain confidence in their daily lives” explains Amanda. 

“Through the programme I’ve learnt that I can’t be judgmental of how other people bring up their children.” Amanda says, “I’ve also gained pleasure in watching the children develop in confidence over our time together.” 

We are very proud of the outcomes for the children on the programme and it is also great to see the benefits for our Big Buddies. Volunteering doesn’t just help the Little Buddies, it can also provide huge life lessons for the Big Buddies, says Helen Goatley, Family Works Buddy Programme Team Leader. 

“Amanda is just one of many Big Buddies who have provided glowing feedback and it is great to hear that the programme is having such a huge impact on those who take part”, explains Helen.

Overall, during our regular reviews with Big Buddies, parents and the Little Buddies, we receive positive feedback about their involvement in the programme.

We know the programme works in achieving outstanding lasting outcomes so we look forward to continuing to provide this valuable Programme, and working with even more Big and Little Buddies for another 20 years.