This programme contributes to the emotional and social well-being of children by matching them with carefully selected and trained adult volunteers in a well-supported mentoring relationship.
After the initial interview appropriate applicants are given an application pack that asks for a range of references and includes an authorisation form for a Police check.
Successful applicants are then invited to participate in a number of interesting and enjoyable sessions that, among other things, introduce a range of effective communication skills, and outline programme policies and guidelines. Initial training is completed with a final interview.
After approval and matching, training and support are provided through monthly group supervision and two annual sessions focusing on topical issues.
Safety for everyone in the programme is given a high priority. Procedures, practice, and policies are intended to assist with this.
Buddy Coordinators spend a great deal of time arranging suitable Buddy matches. Gender, character strengths, temperament, background, experience, age, training, skill level, interests, locality, and expressed preferences are some of the factors taken into account.
Following a successful trial period of about four weeks, the buddies enter into an agreement to meet regularly over the next twelve months to share in ordinary fun activities. At the end of that period the agreement is reviewed and a decision is made to end or extend the period of the match.
Buddy Coordinators maintain monthly contact with the children and their parent(s)/caregiver(s) to assess the progress of the friendship. When either of the Buddies decides they want to end their agreement there is a planned process that takes account of any sense of loss or grief but acknowledges gains and expresses optimism for the future.
The Buddy Programme runs in six locations across Otago. These include Wanaka, Cromwell, Alexandra, Oamaru, Balclutha and Dunedin.