Foróige’s Big Brother Big Sister programme is seeking male and female volunteers to share their time, hobbies and experience with a young person.
Big Brother Big Sister is an internationally renowned youth mentoring programme that matches a young person, who will benefit from extra support, with a caring adult volunteer. It has also been evaluated by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway.
Volunteers meet with their ‘little brother/sister’ weekly and the initial commitment is for one year. Volunteers are vetted to determine their suitability, and are trained and supported. The programme supported some 220 young people in Galway last year in school and community settings.
The impact of this relationship on the participants can be very positive. Breege Clarke is the mother of Brendan Flanagan who participates in the programme, and is mentored by ‘Big Brother’ Stephen Byrne.
“The qualities Stephen has, just switched on a light in Brendan. He goes off to meet Stephen smiling and comes home smiling,” Ms Clarke said.
“The thoughts of being able to inspire a young lad in the right direction and add some colour into his life, helped me to make my decision to volunteer,” said Stephen Byrne. “I have noticed a growing confidence in Brendan since we were matched, in his attitude and ability to mingle with young people his own age.”
Brendan himself is also positive about the impact of having a ‘Big Brother’. “When I met Stephen, I thought he was cool,” he says. “I can talk to him and he is understanding and very clever. We go fishing and to the gym and hang out together, he is great craic.”
For more information on Foróige’s Big Brother Big Sister programme contact 091 - 554420 or see www.foroige.ie/bbbs