Bringing up a family can be a challenge for the best of us. And for mothers or carers coping on their own, supportive and positive male role models can sometimes be hard to come by. Big Buddy Mentoring Trust is helping to fill the gap by providing positive mentors for boys without dads in their lives.
Big Buddy’s marketing manager Josie Sutherland explains more: ‘We match boys without dads in their lives with volunteers – good guys with big hearts who help them grow into good men,’ she reports.
Josie says over 1000 boys aged 7 to 14 have been matched with Big Buddies since 1997. Big Buddies simply show up, spend time and come back again and again. It could be kicking a ball around, walking the dog, or just hanging out together. It’s a simple idea, but the impact can be huge.
Lianne, the mum to a Little Buddy, highlights the significant difference a Big Buddy makes: 'I adore the happiness and confidence that our Big Buddy brings to my son,’ she declares. And it’s a feeling Little Buddies share. ‘I reckon John will be in my life until I die. He is my mate, and I actually feel like I have a dad,’ says one thankful boy.
And it's also an enriching experience for Big Buddies. Josie says the men get great enjoyment and satisfaction from knowing they positively influence their Little Buddies.
Although Big Buddy operates nationwide, it has a strong presence in West Auckland. A dedicated Mentor Manager fields enquiries from families with boys interested in participating in the programme. And is also responsible for recruiting, screening, and training male volunteers to mentor young boys.
Big Buddy is a registered charity. And the mentors are volunteers who give up their time to help. Thanks to the Your West Support Fund, even more families out West will benefit from their life-changing service. Funding of $5,000 has contributed towards the salary costs of the West Auckland Mentor Manager. 'Our Big Buddies come from all walks of life,' says Josie. 'And whānau regularly tell us how vital the relationship is,' she adds.
Undoubtedly, the charity is doing fantastic work, developing more resilient, happier and confident young men out West.