Student Community Action

University Centre, Granta Place, Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RU registered charity no. 263361

Big Siblings Project
Information for prospective clients and referring agencies


Student Community Action (SCA) is a well-established independent registered charity set up to encourage students attending University in Cambridge to take part in voluntary work to benefit the Cambridge community.

We have been registered with the Charity Commission since 1972.


This project aims to provide a volunteer befriender for children who are disadvantaged in some way. They could include a disability, illness, financial disadvantage; have suffered bereavement or have challenging behaviour. The family should live within biking distance (4 miles) of central Cambridge.

The Big Siblings are student volunteers aged 18 years upwards. Little Siblings must be between 5 and 13 years of age.

The student acts as an older brother or sister to the child, visiting the child (usually once a week during Cambridge University Term Time) and either spending time with the child at home or taking them out to the park, cinema or elsewhere in Cambridge. SCA have a budget of £25 per term for the Big Sibling to spend on activities with the Little Sibling, anything over this must be provided and agreed by the family. Only activities approved by the parent / guardian / carer are undertaken. SCA also arranges occasional group activities and trips out for all Big Siblings and their Little Siblings that your child may attend with your consent.

Volunteers are asked to commit to at least 1 hour of contact time per week during term time, although this may be less during exam time.


We obtain at least one satisfactory reference and a police record check certificate (DBS) for all our Big Sibling volunteers.

Before the volunteer is matched with a child, an SCA staff member will make sure they feel confident in being a Big Sib and are comfortable with any special needs the child may have.

Volunteers are encouraged to complete Safeguarding Training within their first term of volunteering. In regard to working with children with special needs, the volunteers will receive some light training ahead of working with the children, with additional guidance being available where necessary.


Each new referral must be discussed with a member of SCA staff BEFORE sending a form in to confirm eligibility and current waiting list status.

Contact the SCA office on or 01223 92 6101
– you will be asked some simple questions and then be sent an application form to complete if appropriate. The information you give on this form will help us to pair your child with a suitable

volunteer. Please note that the information you give on the application form may be disclosed to your volunteer.

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If there is any information you would like to be kept confidential, and only for the attention of the SCA paid staff members, please make this very clear.

After SCA receives an application form for a Big Sibling, we will match the child up with a suitable volunteer as soon as one becomes available. Depending on the time of year and your requirements, this may take a while.

We will then contact you to arrange the first visit with a representative of SCA and your child’s volunteer. At this meeting a mutually convenient time for the volunteer to visit each week can be arranged.

What happens if there are problems?

It is ultimately the parent’s or guardian’s responsibility to decide who cares for their child and what activities they take part in. Although we try to ensure that parents, children and students are happy with the arrangements, very rarely problems can occur.

If you are unhappy, or have any doubts, please contact the SCA office immediately and speak to a member of staff on the numbers listed below. If necessary, we will find another Big Sibling for your child.


The SCA office is the point of contact for families and volunteers if any queries or problems arise. You can contact our office via e-mail to Our contact number is 01223 92 6101

  1. SCA volunteers are covered only by Public Liability Insurance, and only when visiting in time designated for the Big Siblings Project. As such, it is essential that volunteers do not have extra demands placed on them.
  2. If a parent/guardian/carer has further needs which they believe a volunteer could help with (for example assistance for another family member or help with homework) they are asked to contact the SCA office direct, rather than ask their Big Sibling.
  3. At each visit, both volunteer and parent/guardian/carer must agree what activity is planned, and when the Big and Little Siblings will return home. The volunteer should not deviate from these activities or visit anyone who has not been agreed in advance with the parent. You must contact the SCA manager directly if this happens on 07833049179
  4. The volunteer must inform the family as early as possible if they cannot attend an arranged meeting. The parent/guardian/carer should inform the volunteer as early as possible if a planned visit is no longer convenient.
  5. Volunteers and families must inform the SCA office as soon as possible:
    a) If they are no longer able to take part in the Big Siblings Project.
    b) Iftheyhavenotheardfromtheotherpartyortheyhaven’tbeenabletoreachtheotherparty.
  6. Parents are advised to have a chat with any new volunteer regarding their child’s needs and boundaries that the volunteer needs to respects (restricted activities and individuals).
  7. Thisserviceisfreeofcharge.Thevolunteershaveabudgetof£25pertermtospendduringtheir visits. This is to cover the volunteer’s and child’s entrance fees. In addition to this, SCA will pay for the volunteer’s travel expenses. If you are able to contribute to your child’s costs, this will help Student Community Action and allow the child and volunteer to do more activities together.

Reviewed and ratified by Trustees 14 March 2023