Fun in Action for Children are a Brighton-based charity that trains, matches and provides ongoing support to adult volunteers from the local community who act as long-term befrienders to troubled and lonely children from disadvantaged lone parents. The project received £4,000 from the William Alexander Fund in March 2014 towards volunteer expenses. One set of befrienders is Isaac and Darryl.
Darryl and Isaac were matched in September 2014. Darryl is 37-year-old gay man who lives with his long-term partner and little dog in Hove. He has always wanted to be a dad but, after much consideration, decided not to adopt but to befriend a child in need. Isaac, who is six, lives with his grandmother who has full custody. His parents are not able to care for him because of ongoing addiction problems. He sees his mother once-a-month under supervision but does not see his dad at all. Isaac’s grandmother is a lovely woman who cares deeply for her grandson but has mobility and health issues which limit what she can do. Isaac told her he wanted a man to take him out as he did not know any men very well. Both Isaac and his grandmother were delighted about having Darryl as their befriender.
By December 2014, Isaac and Darryl had settled very easily with their befriending. Although it was early days, things were going very well with outings to the seaside, the pier and also to the library, as Isaac loves books. Isaac was quite anxious at first, asking Darryl how long he thought he would be a befriender for? Darryl was quite moved by this and reassured Isaac that he wanted to befriend for as long as possible, also bringing a bit of humour by saying, ‘However long you will want me!’, which brought a smile to Isaac’s face. They have been bowling, to the café and on the beach, catching waves. Neither of them are football-crazy and Isaac is reassured that it is perfectly fine to not like football, even if you’re a boy (or indeed a man). He sometimes is teased at school, as he does not like rough games, and he is able to talk with Darryl about this and how best to handle it. Isaac loves animals and Darryl plans to introduce his dog Betty to him soon.
February 2015 update: Isaac and Darryl’s friendship is growing steadily and the slightly shy Isaac has gone. He has met Darryl’s dog Betty and they get on famously. Isaac and Darryl speak regularly when Darryl is away with work and arrange the next visit from one outing to the other so Isaac always knows when he will meet Darryl again. This has worked really well and Isaac’s grandmother says her grandson is much calmer. He also has something to look forward to and if he has a problem his grandmother says he now says ‘I will talk about it with Darryl!’ Things are also better at school, where Isaac is more relaxed, and there have not been any teasing incidents in the last month. Isaac and Darryl seem to be very well matched. They share ideas, discuss this, that and the other as though they had known each other for a very long time.