In celebration of National Volunteers Week, we are sharing the voices of our volunteer befrienders.
Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (Pace) volunteer befrienders play a vital role in delivering Pace’s goal: to work with parents to end child sexual exploitation. Here, a volunteer befriender talks to Pace about their role and how it helps affected parents.
No matter what problem anyone is facing, if people do not have anyone to talk to it will build up inside, to the point you may feel it could explode.
As a volunteer befriender at Pace, my role is listening to parents affected by child sexual exploitation (CSE). This allows parents to have an outlet, allowing them to get things off their chest with someone outside of their situation. As a befriender you are there to listen. The reason I volunteer is to make a difference, and to lend the parent an ear. At Pace you feel valued and a part of the team.
Parents often feel they are to blame for what has happened to their child, and feel embarrassed and become isolated from others. However, child sexual exploitation is never the fault of the parent; it can happen to anyone regardless of their background or where they live. It can literally happen to anyone.
We build trust with parents, so they feel they can open up. This helps them to understand that it is not their fault, and they should not feel embarrassed to talk about their situation. This can also help the isolation to disappear.
When I speak with a parent on the phone, the call usually lasts an hour. After the calls finishes, you receive a text message saying thank you. For me this makes it more than worthwhile as the person you listen to feels that they have had an opportunity to talk to someone without the fear of not being heard. Befriending can take place on the phone, and some volunteers may also meet parents face-to-face.
I find being a volunteer befriender very rewarding, helping people with their problems and providing them with an outlet, whilst reducing their isolation. I am also a Sikh – my religion believes strongly in helping others, so I also volunteer for religious reasons as well.
I would encourage others to volunteer for Pace and let others know they provide excellent training, and ongoing peer and professional support. If I ever need support, advice, or to ask a question, I contact Pace who are always there for me to support me in my role.
- Would you like to support Pace to work with parents to put an end to child sexual exploitation? Find out how you could fundraise for Pace or make a donation.
- Pace is also currently looking for volunteers based in the London area. Find out more.