Taking the first steps towards becoming an independent adult is a challenge for any young person, but for those leaving care it is so much harder. That’s why the charity Barnardo’s Cymru is appealing for befrienders to help guide them on their way. 

The charity has just launched the Bloom Project, part of Barnardo’s Swansea, to work with care leavers aged 18 to 25 and help them build their confidence, self-esteem and life skills. 

Young people will be able to join a wide range of social activities such as ziplining, cycling, gardening and cooking, while also benefitting from life coaching, employability workshops and one-to-one advice on practical issues. 
The aim is to reduce loneliness and anxiety and help them make a successful transition to adulthood, while also giving them a voice on what matters to them.  

One 23-year-old care leaver said: “Since working with Bloom I feel like I can take on the world and do anything in my life.” 

Many care leavers are isolated and don’t have a strong support network around them. That’s why Barnardo’s Swansea is appealing for volunteer befrienders who can be matched with a young person and provide them with non-judgemental support, whether that’s meeting up for coffee and a chat or supporting them as they apply for a job or college place. 

The charity is also looking for peer mentors who are care experienced themselves and volunteers to help with the Bloom Project’s activity club. 

Volunteer co-ordinator, Josh David-Read, said: “We are looking for people from a wide range of backgrounds who have some life experience and would like to help a young person who doesn’t have the usual support provided by family as they transition towards an independent life. 

“It might just be a couple of hours a week and it could be during the day, in the evening or weekend. It is important that care experienced young people have someone in their life who can be a good role model as they take their first steps towards independence. 

“Young people need some stability and consistency so we are looking for volunteers who would be able to work with a young person over a period of time and share with them some of those important life moments. They will be an important part of our young people’s journey and can make a real difference to their emotional wellbeing by providing that extra support.” 

The rewards can be great as volunteers can help young people to fulfil their potential as well as developing their own skills and experience, possibly towards a future career.  

Volunteers will receive full training, regular supervision and out of pocket expenses. They can also earn Tempo Time Credits which can be exchanged for a wide variety of activities and services across the UK. 
To find out more email bloomproject@barnardos.org.uk or ring 07763 579 730. 

By Editor

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