‘Every day is an adventure’

Jenna and Caleb
Jenna Volpert with Caleb

Former Jersey College for Girls student Jenna Volpert befriended Caleb Owens for ‘three and a half wonderful years’ before she went to university to study medicine. She was 16 at the start of her befriending, and Caleb was nearly ten

Why did you decide to become a befriender?

While I was growing up, my family moved around a lot. Starting again in new schools and in different countries taught me the importance of friendship and a solid support system. So when we settled in Jersey and I heard that Autism Jersey offered a befriending scheme I grabbed the opportunity to give back as a thank you to all of those who have befriended me along the way.

What was the training like?

The training took place during convenient evening sessions over a few weeks. A small group of people attended and in a friendly open environment we absorbed all the relevant information. It was incredibly interesting and I came out of each workshop thinking that it was beneficial and practical.

What kind of things did you do as a befriender?

Everything from cinema trips to painting pottery… Some of my favourite memories include running down the sand dunes and photography expeditions to St Catherine’s Woods.

What was your favourite part of befriending?

We shared lots of favourite moments. For me, watching our friendship develop over the years and witnessing our personal changes as we grew up together was awesome. Every day is an adventure and an absolute blessing. Caleb has truly played a central role in my life so far and someone who I will hold dear and seek out for many years to come.

Has it influenced anything you may do in future?

I have always wanted to work in the health care sector and doing the befriending scheme has only strengthened my resolve to work with people.

What would you say to anyone thinking of befriending?

DO IT! The course will thoroughly prepare you, the team at Autism Jersey are so supportive and it has honestly been the best decision I have made – we have both gained so much from our experiences.

*Fancy being a befriender? We are always on the lookout for new volunteers to befriend adults as well as children. You have to be over 16. If you are interested, please email Jaclyn at j.lecrom@autismjersey.org for more details.