At Friendship Works we aim to ensure that children have the adult support that they need on their journey through childhood. Children may need additional help for a variety of reasons. They may, for example, be young carers or have a parent with a learning disability or long-term mental health difficulty. Our mentors provide stability, consistency, and one-to-one attention for children who lack one or more of these at home.
Friendship Works was set up in 1977 with a specific remit – to support children from single parent households.
Recently we reviewed this restriction and took the decision to widen our criteria; we now also accept referrals for children from two parent families. This change means that we can respond to the specific needs of each child regardless of their particular circumstances.
Over the next six months we will assess how well our mentoring service works with children from two parent families. We will evaluate whether we need to make any changes to how we provide our services and how we interact with mentors, children, and families in a two parent situation. There is a range of potential difficulties that we need to monitor. The inter-personal dynamics between the mentor, caseworker, and family, for example, will be made more complex with the addition of a second parent. None of these challenges are likely to be insurmountable, but we need to assess them carefully to ensure that we maintain our high quality of service.
This is an exciting development for us and one that places children’s needs firmly at the heart of our service. We hope to learn a lot from this pilot project and share our findings with the rest of the voluntary sector.