Joel and I are currently driving back from a fantastic weekend away with the Care for the Family additional needs befriending team.
The event was held at the Hilton hotel near East Middlands Airport. We had a fantastic time getting to know people from all across the UK who have children with additional needs. Some of these children have now grown up in to adults and it was really encouraging to hear from so many people that things do actually get easier!
I first heard about the befriending service through Care for the Family’s additional needs Facebook page – you can check it out here… Care for the Family – Additional Needs
Basically people ring up Care for the Family and then are matched up with a befriender based on similar additional needs or circumstances. The befriender is not a counseller but someone who has or is walking though similar situations who can be there to listen, support and encourage and this can happen over the phone or email. The befriending relationship lasts as long as it is needed and often develops in to a great friendship.
People often just want to chat to some one who ‘gets it’ and due to the nature of the befriending (telephone/email) location doesn’t matter. I felt this was something that was right for me to do and contacted Anita for a chat.
After various conversations, forms and references, I was invited to attend this training weekend as an opportunity to find out more and with no pressure to commit if it wasn’t right.
Joel decided that he fancied coming along too (must have been the idea of a weekend in the Hilton hotel with no children!) and although he doesn’t have the capacity to be a befriender he was around at meal times etc to chat and meet new people. He spent a bit of time to doing school work but also chilling in the jacuzzi, reading and catching up on sleep!
The Friday night was for new befrienders to find out more. We had a three course meal (the food was amaizng all weekend!) and chatted and made some great friends. It was really easy to talk to people and it felt that relationships went deep really quickly. I attended the first session and Joel went back to our room to read however he fell asleep with both of our room key cards in his pocket…he slept through my banging on the door and various phone calls! Thankfully the staff on reception were very helpful and gave me another key card.
Toby must have broken my body clock as I literally woke up every hour on Friday night and then even this morning I was wide awake before 4:30am….It was lovely however to not have to actually get up or have children jumping on your head…my poor mum and dad had Toby up from 12:45 on Saturday morning so hats off to them!
We were then joined by the rest of the existing befrienders on Saturday morning and again it was great to meet lots more people. We had a great day of practical teaching and were equipped with great skills to help us as individuals with children with additional needs and as befrienders.
We then had another great three course meal together and it was lovely again just to get to chat to people – something which we often struggle to do with the boys around!
Joel and I were invited to speak on Sunday morning to finish the weekend off and so we shared from our own experiences about living in hope. We loved our time away and made some great friends and are already looking forward to next year! It really felt as if God had brought us all together.
If you would like to find out more about the Befriending service…maybe you would just like someone to chat to, check out – Care for the Family – Additional Needs Befriending for the contact details.