The children of today are the leaders and future-shapers of tomorrow and giving those in need a helping hand often makes a big difference. One organisation playing a vital role in this area is Christchurch Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).
Jacqueline Campbell, philanthropy manager for the group, explains that like most charitable organisations BBBS is reliant on donations and volunteers.
Both are important, she says, to help youngsters in need of extra support achieve their goals later in life.
“Growing up I was lucky to have a very supportive family and extended whanau, and that has helped to get me to where I am today,” she says.
“Many of the children at BBBS don’t have that level of support and that’s where we come in.”
Currently BBBS has a lot of children in Christchurch waiting for mentors. “We are looking for everyday people to be friends with these youngsters and guide them in life. Professional people, semi-retired people, retirees, all sorts.”
Jacqueline says the need is for both female and male mentors. “Someone who has at least an hour a week to have some fun with a young person.”
Mentors are carefully vetted and then matched with children and young people. “We want to get to know our mentors really well, so careful and appropriate matching is done,” explains Jacqueline. “This involves interviews, reference checks, police checks, and more to ensure mentors are suitable and that they do have the time to put into helping out.”
Mentors are initially sought for children aged from six to 12 years, although BBBS supports the matches it makes up until age 18.
“Research says that having an extra role model at that age (six to 12) makes a big difference,” says Jacqueline. “We initially ask for a 12-month commitment, although the average mentor in Christchurch stays for 4.3 years.
“The difference you can make with one hour, once a week can impact a lifetime.”
Playing sports, hanging out, walks, playing board games, bike rides, crafts and more; how the time is spent is up to the mentor.
“Mentoring sessions are a fun, relaxed time when young people and their mentors hang out and build a friendship. It is all about spending one-to-one time together doing things both the big and little enjoy from one to three hours once a week.”
To learn more about how you can help, visit the website.