West Lothian Family Support - Mentoring Service
A story by Barnardos
We supported young people with a learning disability to access the local community e.g. snacks out, walking, swimming, museums, libraries, and cinema.
What West Lothian Family Support - Mentoring Service did
The Befriending Co-ordinator post was advertised externally. Following interviews, an internal applicant was selected for the role. Volunteer recruitment was on-going throughout the year, via the Volunteer Co-ordinator.
The Befriending Service was promoted within the local authority through Child Disability Services (Social Work Team), and Signpost (a support service for parents of children with disabilities). Referral meetings were held with both of these stakeholders throughout the year, to gathers information and discuss the suitability of referrals.
The staff members who would be able to give us a case study are on long term sick leave and we are unsure as to when they will return.
What Barnardos has learnedThe fund enabled the organisation to deliver a Befriending Service. There has been some valuable learning from this project for the organisation, regarding the provision of volunteer befrienders. There were a number of challenges met throughout the year, which impacted on the delivery of the service.
The recruitment of volunteers was a key challenge, there were a number of existing volunteers who chose to leave the organisation around the same time which impacted on service delivery, as the recruitment and induction of new volunteers takes a considerable amount of time. Following this, the matching of volunteers was an additional challenge, as many volunteers were not available at times that young people required a service to attend a specific activity e.g. a Saturday morning to attend a football club.
In addition the demand for the provision of a befriending service in the authority appeared to significantly decrease from the time the original application was submitted, to the time that the service began to run. Several of the referrals to the service were not appropriate e.g. due to their level of need, or their current support package.
The service that was provided was personalised to meet each individual young person’s needs e.g. to meet a specific outcome / attend a specific group, at a time and frequency that was suitable for both the young person and their family. The input of Signpost (a support service for parents of children with disabilities) was invaluable in attracting carers who were new or less likely to ask for support, as they often had no previous involvement with the Social Work department.