BBBSTT Frequently Asked Questions
How do I become a Big Brother or Big Sister?
Download and print the Volunteer-Application-Form or call the office to have us send one to you. Once you have filled it out, contact us to arrange the next step.
What commitment is required?
Many children referred to the programme have experienced a lot of rejection and disappointment in their lives so far. BBBS programmes therefore ask for regular contact over a lengthy period of time, generally at least 2 hours every week for an initial period of a year.
What does a Big do?
Bigs become trusting and trustworthy mentors to young people who are either not coping well with everyday life, or have had experiences that leave them vulnerable to negative influences and behaviour. Activities with them vary according to interests, time and resources. The Big & Little (the pair is called a Match) generally plan their activities, either during the week via phone or at the end of each of their meetings. The activities can vary from walks together to watching sports or doing homework. The emphasis is on the gradual development of a relationship rather than on activities. A booklet of activity suggestions and idea-sparkers is given to the Match when it is set up.
How much does it cost?
There are no fees to join BBBSTT. However, nominal fees may be charged for the mandatory training sessions which all volunteers are required to undergo before they are matched with a child. We do encourage the Bigs, once matched, to pursue activities that do not cost money, or are inexpensive. They are also discouraged from spending a lot of money on the Littles, as it is their time and attention that are most valuable.
What are the Littles like?
The age group of the Littles is 6 to 16 years old. They are generally just like anyone else except that they have been referred to the programme to benefit from an additional supportive adult in their lives. Sometimes they have different views on life, may be less communicative than some, or their past negative experiences may reflect in their behaviour. Most often though their needs cannot be fully met by their current support system. They are referred to the programme by parents, guardians or professionals, but must be willing to participate fully. Any issues related to a child will be discussed with the Big prior to matching, and the staff will help to prepare the volunteers (Bigs) for any individual needs that may require special attention.
Where do they come from?
Currently BBBSTT has a working relationship with several children’s institutions throughout the country that have been established to provide residential care for children in need. Mostly, it is from these institutions that the Littles come. Individual parents or guardians may also refer children whom they feel can benefit from the programme. The most common reasons for referral are a lack of one-to-one support and a need for better role models.
How long does it take to be matched?
The screening / intake process is very detailed, and takes no more than 5 months to complete. BBBSTT staff get to know you very well, and you get the opportunity to understand fully the role and responsibitlity of being a Big. This comprehensive process enables us to select suitable volunteers for the role of Big, and to provide the best possible match to serve each child’s needs.
Do I have to do training, and is there any follow-up?
Yes, and yes. We endeavour to provide training to all potential Bigs before they are matched. Training is preparation for your role, and covers topics such as communication and “what if…” scenarios. Additionally, intermittently the Bigs gather in a relaxed setting to discuss challenges and possible solutions. Although each Match meets on their own, the staff provide supervision by remaining in regular contact with all parties concerned. This includes the Big, Parent / Guardian, any professional involved in the case, and of course the Little.
Do I have to take up activities and interests that I have not done before?
Not necessarily. Matches are made according to interests, location and personality. The shared experiences between the Match should not dramatically change the lifestyles. Some new adventures may result as a closer and more trusting friendship develops slowly with time. Also, the decision on activities should be made together, by both the Big and Little, ensure that the Little feels a sense of empowerment and becomes engaged in the relationship as it progresses.
What if I go on holidays or a business trip during the year?
The minimum 2 hours per week is only a guideline. If there is going to be a break it would be a great opportunity to communicate in some other way with the child, for example, by postcard. We recommend, however, that the Little is made to understand that they won’t see you for a while, but that you will be back.
What if the Little doesn’t like me, or vice versa?
BBBSTT conducts careful matching, and endeavours to be thorough as each match relationship is very important and established to last. Around the world, the average match relationship is 2 ½ years. Occassionally, the Match doesn’t work as well as we hope. In such cases the staff will make efforts to solve any possible problems, or take care to re-match the volunteer and the child quickly.