Wanted: volunteer buddies

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The call has gone out for Dunedin men from all walks of life to consider giving up just a little of their spare time to make a big difference in the lives of local children.
The Presbyterian Support Otago Buddy Programme has a waiting list of about 40 children, and is in urgent need of adult “buddies” – especially men, to take on the role.
PSO Buddy Programme co-ordinator Marco Kleinlangevelsloo said there were “some great guys” and women already involved in the programme, which caters for children aged from 4 to 12 years.
“We definitely have quite a waiting list and some children, particularly boys, have been waiting quite a while,” Mr Kleinlangevelsloo said.
People who became adult buddies with the programme did not need any special skills, they just needed to have the right motivation and be willing to share their personal interests with a young person, he said.
“Our buddies are from all walks of life, and of all ages – from people in their 20s through to their 70s.”
Among the existing team of buddies is Ryan Standring, who works as an administrator with the New Zealand Police, and has been buddy to a 9-year-old boy since August.
“It has been really good fun so far – my young buddy is a relaxed, polite kid, who has good suggestions for things we can do together,” Mr Standring said.
So far, the pair have caught up once a week, and have gone 10-pin bowling, visited parks and beaches, attended a rugby match at the stadium, and taken part in the Ronald McDonald train trip to Hindon.
“I’m loving it and so is the young fella,” he said.
“It has been really nice to see how much he gets out of the outings we have together.”
Mr Standring said he received good support in his buddy role from Mr Kleinlangevelsloo, who was available to provide advice and provided monthly “supervision” sessions.
Mr Kleinlangevelsloo said the PSO Buddy Programme was established in Otago 25 years ago and was now in operation nationally through Family Works.
“It is a fantastic programme, which has great benefits for both the children and the adults who take part,” he said.
People who step forward to become a buddy have an initial interview, put in an application, undergo a police check, and then have a final interview. They also receive training.
The new training programme will be held at the end of February.
To register your interest, phone Presbyterian Support Otago on 477-7115 or email Marco Kleinlangevelsloo via marcok@psotago.org.nz