The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is presenting challenges for everyone. However, the most vulnerable members of Metro Vancouver communities continue to be significantly impacted.
Youth and children fall into this category, and some are now facing increased adversities in their homes as a result of the pandemic. Non-profit federation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, says that calls to children’s helplines are up by 350% from kids experiencing anxiety and mental health concerns.
A lack of consistency in school in recent months, separation from their peers, and a disconnect from their support circle is increasing pressure among children and youth. Now, more than ever, these young people need stable and caring relationships. Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver helps facilitate this through mentorship programs.
The organization is calling on Vancouverites to consider becoming a Big Brother to someone who needs it most.
Over the past few months, the pandemic has forced Vancouver to slow down, and consequently, it has provided us with the chance to re-evaluate how we are spending our free time.
Mentorship is still important during these times, and it’s possible to become a Big Brother by committing just two to four hours of your time per week. Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver helps facilitate the process of supporting vital mentoring relationships, which ultimately helps to fight the social isolation facing local children and youth.
“One of the biggest inspirations is being able to see Nathan [his Little Brother] evolve and grow into a thoughtful, intelligent, caring young man with wonderful morals, and values,” explains Ivan Evelyn, one of the mentors with Big Brothers.
Mentoring not only empowers youth within our community, but it also brings about a social return on investment — every $1 invested in mentoring returns $23 to society.
According to a survey conducted by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, the majority of mentored youth (98%) believe they make good life choices, and half (50%) are more likely to volunteer themselves.
It also revealed that the majority of Little Brothers got along better with their peers or continued to get along well with their peers (73%), and most Mentors felt that their Little Brother’s communication and social skills had improved (72%).
Volunteers over 18 years of age can sign up to take on a Big Brother role with a one-year minimum commitment.
Big Brothers are matched with Little Brothers (aged 7 to 14) based on their personality types, personal interests, and local geography. During the friendship-based program, both can enjoy low- or no-cost activities together like playing soccer, visiting a virtual museum, and so forth.
Other than the Big Brothers program, the organization also has a variety of mentorship programs available. Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver welcome volunteers, children, and families of all backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions, including transgender and gender-fluid individuals.
Life-changing mentorship relationships can support youth and children in reaching their potential, and Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver helps enable these connections.
“Now that I know how accessible and rewarding these volunteer opportunities are, I’d tell anyone who’s considering volunteering to just do it — it’s worth it,” says Manuel, a mentor with Big Brothers.
Since September (Big Brothers Big Sisters Month) is just around the corner, there’s never been a better time to get involved.
If you’re inspired to become a Big Brother or curious to learn more about the program, inquire here. You can also email [email protected] or book a 30-minute introductory call here and a Big Brother representative will be happy to answer any questions.