About the programme commitment
How much time do I have to commit on a regular basis?
We ask that you commit approximately 4 hours every week. Particularly at the beginning of the relationship, it is important to offer a consistent commitment to the child and their family, so that they can get to know you (and vice-versa).
Occasional absences are to be expected, whether for holiday, work responsibilities or illness. If you are going to miss an outing, discuss your plans with BBBS, your Little Brother or Little Sister and his or her parent or guardian prior to your absence.
How long is the programme?
We are looking for people who can make a long term commitment to a child - this is at least one year. We know that long-term matches can have much more impact, and so we are particularly interested in people who do not foresee a change in their personal circumstances in the near future and can support their Little Sibling on a more long-term basis. Of course, things may change, and so if you only know that you can offer a year at the moment, it is still worth considering whether to volunteer with BBBS.
What if my circumstances change?
We ask that you keep the BBBS team up to date about any potential changes of circumstances, so that we can best manage any risks with regards to the relationship with the child.
Children and young people can often have lots of people coming in and out of their lives, and this is why we insist on a long-term commitment (minimum one year) for this programme. If you think your circumstances are likely to change in the next year, this programme may not be right for you - but do get in touch to discuss any questions, or to find out more about other volunteering opportunities available through Oxford Hub.
About the recruitment, selection & matching process
how does the selection process work?
The selection process starts with the expression of interest form that you can find on this website. After you complete that form, the programme coordinators will be in touch to arrange an introductory meeting to get to know you a bit more. At this meeting we will be able to share a full application form and answer any questions you may have about the programme. Following your application form, you will complete your DBS check with Oxfordshire County Council, and attend a half day training session, scheduled for a Saturday between 1pm and 6pm.
How long does the process take from expression of interest to match?
The BBBS programme prepares volunteers in ‘waves’, so the timeline may depend on when the next date of training and matching is scheduled for. We tend to hold training events every 4 months, or more frequently if there is a lot of volunteer demand. If you're interested in being part of the next cohort please get in touch and we can give you a better idea of timeframes for when we will be matching volunteers.
How will I be matched to a child?
The main criteria that we take into account is location, ensuring that picking up and dropping off your Little Sibling is easy and fits with your lifestyle e.g. if you don't drive we will make sure there is a convenient bus route. In general, we tend to match within a 20-30 minute travel time from your home or work (whatever is most convenient). Throughout the selection process, you will have the opportunity to express your location preferences, but also to indicate whether you have any preferences about age, gender or activities.
About the day-to-day outings and activities
Does mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters cost a lot of money?
It doesn't have to - you will have a small budget to cover your transport and activity costs. Big Brothers Big Sisters encourages no-cost and low-cost activities, and we can help find good discounts and deals around Oxfordshire. You may choose to do something special now and then that goes beyond your budget - this may be a personal expense, but you can talk to the BBBS team to discuss potential funding ideas too.
What support is there available if I have any issues or concerns?
On a day-to-day basis you will have access to a link worker for your child at Children’s Services. If you are not sure about whether your concern should be escalated, you can always call the BBBS team at Oxford Hub to discuss your questions. You will also have access to a point of contact for emergencies and out-of-hours support.
You will complete a training and orientation programme before you are matched to a child, and this will provide you with detail on all the support available for you. There is ongoing training for volunteers in the programme, and we ask that all volunteers attend at least 4 sessions per year. The details of the 2018-19 training programme can be found here.
About the programme
Who coordinates the BBBS programme?
Hannah and Sara have volunteered as Big Sisters to four children in Oxford for the past 5 years. The idea to expand the programme comes from seeing the benefit that a long-term friendship can have for children, the success of the US-based programme, and all the fun that both Big Sisters have had over the past few years.
Both Hannah and Sara work at Oxford Hub, which is the centre for social action and social change in Oxford City, providing a wide range of volunteering opportunities for residents and students. This means that the programme is part of a wider network of people making a difference across the City and the wider county.