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Plugging a Gap? Children's experiences and perceptions of male befrienders

Do children attending befriending projects have preferences about the gender of their volunteer befriender?

This 18 month research project will explore the views of children, from lone mother households, attending befriending projects in Scotland and England. The work will be guided by a project advisory group of people connected with befriending and children's projects, volunteer organisations and academic research. 
Befriending services recruit adult volunteers to support individual children, usually through participation in weekly leisure activities with them. Understanding children's views is of obvious value to these organisations and to others working with young people.

Befriending Network Scotland indicates that the children come disproportionately from lone mother families and that projects are concerned about the lack of male volunteers, believing that individual boys would benefit from the support of a male befriender.

Twenty-four children (16 boys and 8 girls) attending 8 projects will be interviewed. The difference in these numbers reflects the project's aims. Interviews will take place before the children meet their befriender and again after spending some time with this adult. Project manager will be asked for project information and each child's mother for details on the child's contacts with male relatives and friends, including the birth father.