The exciting new support for children aged 10 to 12 in need of friendship has got off to a flying start with youngsters already beginning to make happy memories, writes Lyn Hartman.
“The children really get what Memory Makers is all about,” said Clare Armagan, programme coordinator. “They know what they need – and the simple things are bringing the most joy. Running down a hill, counting the trees, feeding the ducks, kicking a football around, and chatting to someone with time to listen.”
She commented that the volunteers seem to be having as much fun as the children. One said: “We had great fun playing football and didn’t stop talking the whole time. At the end of the evening she said thank you and said she’d had the most fun she’s had in a long time. I can’t wait for next week.”
Graphic designer Lucy, one of the first volunteers, said she was having as much fun as Michelle who she has been matched with. “We get on so well together. We went to Coate Water on our first outing and had a great time. We walked around the lake and sat on the grass and had a picnic, then had a ride on the miniature railway.
“On our next outing we had a look round the shops at the Designer Outlet and ate donuts. I’m really a big kid myself; being a Memory Maker has a serious aim, but it’s also a great excuse to have fun together.”
Mary, another of the first group to be matched said: “I volunteered because I can. I can free up a few hours a week and if spending that time with a child will make such a big difference to their future then it just makes sense. We’ve all seen families who are struggling and Memory Makers is giving me the opportunity to help out a child in a safe way.”
“I wanted to be a Memory Maker because I felt I could help children who are not as fortunate as others to enjoy simple activities,” said Sue. “After just a couple of meetings it’s turned out to be very rewarding watching Stacey enjoying herself so much.”
Memory Makers is building on the huge success of SMASH which offers teenagers the opportunity to meet a mentor each week. The volunteers befriend children who are missing out on simple opportunities for having fun and creating good memories because of a combination of circumstances including bereavement, illness, domestic violence or divorce.
Clare Armagan commented: “We believe that happy memories are crucial in psychological and emotional growth. Remembering good times can help cushion children from the challenges they face every day, and, crucially, may give them hope for the future.”
Each Memory Maker volunteer is linked with a child in the last year of primary school. They will need to commit to meeting once a week or fortnight to enjoy doing simple things like going to the park, visiting a library or trying out a new sport or hobby.
Want to know more about becoming a Memory Maker?
Get in touch now if you are interested; you’ll have fun and make a real difference to a child’s future. Excellent training and friendly, efficient volunteer support is on offer in exchange for a few hours of your time a week.
The next training sessions takes place on Wednesday 11 June, 6pm to 9.30pm; Saturday 21 June 10am to 4pm and Wednesday 25 June, 6pm to 9.30pm.
Call 01793 729748 to have an informal chat with Clare or mail: email@example.com
Or click on the Memory Makers button at http://www.smashyouthproject.co.uk