"I’ve learned so much": befrienders’ experiences of befriending minority ethnic young people

Chris McVittie (1) , Karen Goodall (2) , Yvette Barr (3)
(1) Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, UK , United Kingdom
(2) Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, UK , United Kingdom
(3) Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, UK , United Kingdom


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 befriendees’ 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.

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Chris McVittie
cmcvittie@qmu.ac.uk (Primary Contact)
Karen Goodall
Yvette Barr
Author Biographies

Chris McVittie, Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, UK

CHRIS McVITTIE is Senior Lecturer in social psychology and qualitative research methods at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK. His main interests include the study of identities, social inclusion and marginalization. He is co-author (with Andy McKinlay) of Social Psychology and Discourse, published (2008) by Wiley-Blackwell.

Karen Goodall, Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, UK

KAREN GOODALL is a Lecturer in developmental and lifespan psychology  at  Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK.  Her main interests include the construction of belief systems in children and adults,  the correlates of mental well-being in adults, and qualitative interpretations of healthcare contexts.

Yvette Barr, Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, UK

YVETTE BARR graduated with an honours degree in Psychology from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK. She continues to pursue research interests in education and in communication with children and young people.

McVittie, C., Goodall, K., & Barr, Y. (2009). "I’ve learned so much": befrienders’ experiences of befriending minority ethnic young people. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 9(3), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.36923/jicc.v9i3.488

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