Big Buddy a win-win role for vol­un­teer

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS -

Clyde born, Queen­stown raised, Heather Rid­dell has been a vol­un­teer with the Wakatipu Buddy Pro­gramme for a lit­tle over a year.

As a Jig­saw Cen­tral Lakes ad­min­is­tra­tor she has the flex­i­bil­ity to com­mit to regular vol­un­teer­ing and af­ter read­ing an ad­vert for more Big Bud­dies she picked up the phone and there has been no go­ing back.

‘‘I love it,’’ Rid­dell said. ‘‘Bring­ing up two girls I know how fast they grow up – I miss my girls, so it’s lovely hav­ing some­one to play along­side again.’’

The Wakatipu Buddy Pro­gramme is a preven­ta­tive pro- gramme of­fered by Fam­ily Works South­land for chil­dren aged 4-12 who are matched oneto-one with a trained adult buddy. All are chil­dren whose cir­cum­stances in­di­cate a need for ad­di­tional adult sup­port.

Rid­dell was a buddy to a girl, 6, (who re­cently moved away) and looked for­ward to meet­ing her each week.

‘‘At first it was hard as the wee girl would hardly look at me, but as time went on I gained her trust. Her con­fi­dence in­creased then she started smil­ing at me which was won­der­ful.

‘‘It’s such a win-win sit­u­a­tion, the teach­ers at school no­ticed a pos­i­tive change in her and she taught me so much; to take time out from our busy lives to re­flect on and en­joy the sim­ple things. I loved watch­ing her ab­sorb and ques­tion ev­ery­thing. We had fun!’’

Rid­dell will be matched with a new lit­tle buddy soon.

What else has she gained from vol­un­teer­ing?

‘‘I’ve met some great like­minded peo­ple and it costs me noth­ing other than time. It can be a jug­gle, but it re­ally makes a dif­fer­ence, it’s so worth­while.’’

To any­one con­sid­er­ing vol­un­teer­ing Heather said: ‘‘Click on the link – it’s so easy to do and the re­wards are well worth it.’’ ◗ For more Buddy Pro­gramme or other vol­un­teer­ing de­tails con­tact Vol­un­teer­ing Cen­tral.

Wakatipu Buddy Pro­gramme vol­un­teer Heather Rid­dell.

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