Buddy Programme

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.


  • Increase children's self esteem
  • Develop social skills and help children make positive choices
  • Provide opportunities for new social experiences and different activities
  • Friendship, support, guidance and encouragement
  • Fun and happiness

Adult Buddies are:

  • Adults who are there to listen, support and encourage their Young Buddy
  • People to hang out and have fun with once a week for 2-3 hours
  • Adults aged 20 years and over
  • Women and men from varied backgrounds and life experiences
  • Adult role models who can provide a healthy adult/child relationship

Becoming an Adult Buddy:

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.

Young Buddies are:

  • Children between 4 and 12 years of age
  • Children whose life circumstances indicate the need for additional adult support
  • Children who need extra help coping with, or fitting into their home, school or community
  • Referred from a variety of sources, such as social workers, public health nurses, teachers, psychologists, and by their own family

The Buddy Programme runs in six locations across Otago. These include Wanaka, Cromwell, Alexandra, Oamaru, Balclutha and Dunedin.

Become an Adult Buddy - Volunteer enquiry form

Read about the Buddy Programme Celebrating 30 years!

Read about our success at the Volunteer Awards

Contact us if you are interested in The Buddy Programme, or if you’re keen to know more about other PSO volunteering opportunities throughout the Otago across our Family Works programs, foodbanks, aged care settings or op shops. Email volunteer@psotago.org.nz or phone (03) 477 7115


Buddy Programme changes the lives of local children

“To see the look on a kid’s face when they succeed”, is a huge motivation behind Trevor Leyser’s incredible 45 years of volunteering. Trevor brings a lifetime of farming, sports and coaching experience to his current role of volunteer Adult Buddy in Presbyterian Support Otago’s (PSO) Family Works Buddy Programme. The programme boosts the emotional and social well-being of each child (Young Buddy) by matching them with a carefully selected and trained Adult Buddy.

Trevor spends time with his Young Buddy listening and talking about things in an open way in a safe environment, sharing knowledge and being a friendly mentor. They simply “have a lot of fun together” on their exploits and enjoy planning ahead for future adventures.

First paired last November, time with his Young Buddy is something Trevor looks forward to each week. He delights in introducing his Buddy to things he hasn’t experienced before. “I can already see changes and an increase in confidence. I get so much out of this too - I’m just so proud of him.”

In Trevor’s words “you can change someone’s life with just two to three hours per week.”