Journal of Intercultural Communication, Issue 21, October, 2009

Chris McVittie, Karen Goodall & Yvette Barr

"Iíve learned so much": befriendersí experiences of befriending minority ethnic young people

Abstract

Befriending is commonly regarded as a purposive form of relationship designed to benefit the befriendee. Little research has examined experiences of befrienders. We report findings from a study of the experiences of volunteer befrienders to children and young people from minority ethnic backgrounds. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 volunteers. Participants described benefits of the relationships, acceptance by befriendeesí families, and social links and cultural factors relevant to the relationships. Befriending relationships should be viewed as more reciprocal than is often assumed. The mutual construction of meanings, and reciprocal outcomes, suggests that such relationships can engender positive intergroup relations.

Key words: befriending; cross-cultural; young people; relationships; friendship


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