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Referrals to our service are now currently closed, please continue to check this page for when they are back open


Our Friendship Works service has been providing volunteer mentors to children and young adults who have experienced childhood trauma or disrupted attachments for over forty years. Young people with experiences like these often suffer from low self esteem and social isolation. They are at higher risk of drug and alcohol addiction or becoming involved in criminal activity and are less likely to achieve academically, whilst more likely to experience poor mental health in later life.

We match children and young adults with volunteer mentors who, through quality friendship, give young people access to new opportunities, helping to build their self confidence and develop the resilience needed to manage adversity now and in the future. Since having a Friendship Works Mentor, 80% of young people we support said they felt happier and 76% of Care Leavers felt more positive about their future.

The service aims to:

  • Improve children and young people’s social and emotional development through access to quality friendships – developing a greater ability to understand, manage and express feelings whilst making and maintaining positive relationships and attachments
  • Enable children and young people to view themselves in a more positive way providing a stronger sense of identify and an increased resilience – improving self esteem, confidence and sense of self control
  • Broaden young people’s horizons through access to new opportunities – having more fun, exploring new hobbies, interests and talents


How it works

Our model of mentoring aims to build a positive friendship between a young person and their mentor and has been proven to support the development of physical and emotional well being and resilience building.

For a young person to build effective and supportive relationships, it is important that contact is both frequent and long term. Research has shown that for young people, the most significant impact of a mentoring relationship occurs after 12 months. Therefore, we ask our volunteers to commit to meeting their young mentee on three weekends out of four, for at least two years.

The friendship is led by the needs and wants of the young person rather than by any externally set targets.  In this way the young person is accepted for who they are, and within the safety of this knowledge can grow in confidence and feel safe enough look to their mentor for guidance and emotional support.

All our mentoring matches receive on-going support and supervision from our professional casework team, who are experienced in social care, education, child and adult mental health and youth offending.


Who is the service for

We currently support children and young adults living in London. There is no typical young person we support as each are unique with varying needs, however all have experienced childhood trauma or disrupted attachments and would benefit from the support of an additional adult.

Children aged 5-18

We work with children aged 5 – 18, primarily (but not exclusively) in the London boroughs of Islington, Camden, Tower Hamlets and Lambeth, who are facing a range of challenges in life.

The types of circumstances children may be dealing with include:

  • Being a young carer
  • Living in families with a history of domestic violence or substance misuse
  • Parents with mental health difficulties
  • Managing their own mental or emotional health difficulties
  • Living in the care system
  • A diagnosed Special Educational Need and/or Autistic Spectrum Condition
  • Being subject to a Child Protection Plan

Through the provision of safe, quality mentoring, we are able to introduce children to positive experiences, increasing protective factors in their lives, building the resilience needed to overcome adversity and their capacity to grow into confident and capable adults with improved life chances.

Volunteer to mentor a child.

Young care leavers aged 18-25

We work with young care leavers aged 18-25 across London who are managing the negative impact of early childhood experiences compounded with growing up in care and transitioning to adulthood.

The types of circumstances young care leavers may be dealing with include:

  • Transitioning to adulthood
  • Managing emotional or mental health difficulties
  • Moving out of foster or children’s homes and into independent living
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Budgeting and managing personal finances
  • Accessing the benefit system
  • Decisions about moving into higher education
  • Entering the world of work

At this crucial point in a young person’s life, an enduring and stable relationship with a positive, caring adult makes an enormous difference. However, many care leavers are without family or previous carers they can turn to for advice, for information or support when life is frightening, lonely or confusing.

Through establishing a trusting relationship with a mentor, young people leaving care are supported to build resilience, life skills and sense of self worth, which will subsequently place them in a better position to have hopes for the future and access employment, training or education.

Volunteer to mentor a care leaver.

How to access the service

To refer a child or young person or for more information please email our Friendship Works Service Manger with a brief outline of their current circumstances and need for a mentor. We accept referrals from individuals and organisations working with young people as well as parents, carers, children or young adults who wish to self-refer.

When making a referral it is important to make sure that the young person and parent understand this service is voluntary and wish to participate in the process.

The difference we make

Over the decades, we’ve seen first hand the difference a Friendship Works Mentor can make to children, young people and Care Leavers.

“Having a mentor has made me feel more positive in myself, because I suffer from anxiety disorder and every other mental health that I’ve been diagnosed with. Meeting [my mentor] has helped me to see the positivity in myself and boost my self-esteem in things that I thought I couldn’t do”. – Mentee

  • 80% of young people feel happier as a result of having a mentor.
  • 84% of young people reported increased levels of confidence since having a mentor.
  • 76% of Care Leavers feel more positive about their future since having mentor.
  • 60% of Care Leavers feel more in control of their lives since having the support of a mentor.
  • 83% of mentee/mentor matches engaged for the full two years of the programme.


How you can help

Friendship Works relies on generous donations. If you have any questions about donating, please email [email protected].

You can also get involved by…

Volunteer to mentor a child

Volunteer to mentor a care leaver

Read Friendship Works stories

Contact Details

Find us

Friendship Works
34 Wharf Road,
N1 7GR

Opening times

Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm

Saturday & Sunday closed