Fun in Action was set up in 1999. We provide a befriending service to children and young people from disadvantaged lone parent families in the Brighton and Hove area of East Sussex. By providing extra support to the family we actually strengthen it.
"The service is good because it is aimed specifically at lone parents who can struggle so much with support and finances. It is such an important service and makes such a difference to our lives. It helps to hold my family together and it takes the pressure off me."
Jane, lone mother of four children under 10.
We all need a helping hand sometimes. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs we will ever do and if we don’t have family and financial resources to draw on for help then things can very easily get on top of us. The parents of children referred for befrienders strive to do a good job but their circumstances don’t make it easy. They are on their own, often isolated and living on a low income with only limited help. There may be one child who has special needs and whose demands take up a lot of the parent’s time or there may be a number of children making it difficult to meet each child’s individual needs. Sometimes the parent themselves is in poor physical health or has a disability, or there has been a death or separation in the family that has left them bereaved. When family’s resources are stretched and the parent has so much to deal with they don’t have sufficient time or energy to respond fully to all the demands made by their children. Of the 55 children on our waiting list at the year end:
We match each child with a thoroughly vetted and carefully chosen adult volunteer. The befriender spends 3-4 hours, on a fortnightly or weekly basis, with the child with the aim of relieving the pressure on families and providing another reliable, caring relationship for the child.
A Long Term Commitment
As a befriending organisation Fun is special in insisting on a minimum volunteer commitment of 2 years. This way we have a greater chance of the friendship providing the key element of stability that many of our children need.
Befrienders and children spend their fortnightly or weekly meetings engaged in activities they both enjoy. This could be a game of football, a cinema trip, a bike ride or a walk and a chat. The emphasis is not on what they do but on the quality and ease of the relationship they develop.
We also organise group activities to which all family members and befrienders are invited. Just being together in a relaxed atmosphere and having a good time strengthens family bonds and provides opportunities for children and their parents to form friendships.
Offering lifelong friendship
Some of our befriending relationships are now changing as the young people move on into the adult world of college, work and peer friendships. However, the significance of our friendships at a vital stage in their life remains with them and, for some, it will be a friendship that will continue for many years to come.
Since it began in 1999 Fun in Action has set up over 600 befriending relationships. Many of these friendships have lasted well beyond the 2 year minimum period and continue to flourish. We have run over 75 outings, picnics and parties with an overall attendance of well over 1,000 people.