Big Buddy a win-win role for volunteer
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.