How to form Buddy Groups

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Setting up your PD Buddy Groups

  • Ideally you should only be volunteering in the PD team.

  • Buddy groups should meet at least once per module (every 3 weeks).

  • You can structure your support any way you feel will be most effective. (1-1, group or mixture).

Starting your Buddy relationship:

To get started, you can:

  • Have a group meeting

  • Tell your Buddies something about yourself: this could include why you have gotten involved as a PD Buddy.

  • Establish how you will be working together: explain the kind of support you are able to provide. Highlight how and when you expect them to connect with you, use the Buddy group on Slack for communication, etc. If you will have group or individual sessions, the frequency etc.

Remember: if you don’t hit it off straight away, don’t panic. It takes time to build any relationship and it will get easier the more you meet because you’ll build up trust and get used to each other.

What is the first meeting for?

The first meeting is all about getting your relationship off to a good start by establishing some ground rules and acknowledging that the relationship is two-way. This is also the best time to discuss the scope of your role as a PD buddy and share your expectations with one another.

We recommend you get a sense of your Buddy’s personal circumstances in relation to:

  • their English speaking, reading and writing skills

  • employment/ financial situation

  • housing situation

  • family including any childcare needs

  • legal situation if they are asylum seekers, refugee, or other

  • any other needs

You should also cover a few basic essentials:

  • when you would like to meet – how often and for how long

  • vehicle for follow-up meetings (Zoom, Hangouts, Slack, phone call)

  • how you will keep in touch (by email and or Slack) and how you will remind each other of future meetings.

  • discussing and agreeing how you will work together

  • confidentiality

  • responsibility

  • how you will record progress and issues/targets for further development


  • Get to know your buddies. Talk about their studies at CYF and their life outside it. Try to understand what they think and why. Value their viewpoint.

  • Do what you say you are going to do. Agree what you are aiming to achieve through your mentoring sessions. Be reliable and always do what you say you are going to do.

  • Communicate openly and honestly. Discuss issues as soon as they arise. Ask for and give feedback.

  • Don’t be afraid to challenge. Your open, honest relationship will allow you to challenge your Buddies constructively to explore a wider viewpoint.

Building rapport with your Buddies

Taking time to build rapport with your Buddies will help you to get the most from the relationship. Rapport comes from shared values or experiences, and sometimes from a ‘chemistry’ that is hard to define. One sign that there is comfort or rapport between two people is that they have similar tone of voice, body language, movements and so on. Next time you are in company, watch other people talking together. Look for examples of similarities or ‘synchronicity’ between them.

Ask yourself:

  • Are their body postures similar?

  • Do they use similar hand movements?

  • What do their faces tell you, especially their expressions?

  • Do their moods seem similar?

  • How similar are their voices?

Barriers to an effective Buddy relationship

Most barriers stem from:

  • Personality issues

  • Lack of awareness of the roles of the volunteer Buddy and the trainee

Common barriers include

  • Poor time investment from either volunteers or trainees

  • Volunteer or trainee dissatisfaction about the way the support is being utilised

  • Unrealistic expectations about the skills and abilities of trainees

  • The lack/blurring of boundaries in the mentor/mentee relationship

We can help you to overcome any barriers you may encounter.

Challenges facing your mentee may include:

  • Being more time efficient

  • Having confidence

  • Having low self esteem

  • Having little or no work experience in UK

  • Having little knowledge of tech work culture

  • Low level of English reading, writing and speaking


It’s really important that you establish a trusting relationship so that your Buddy feels comfortable talking with you about any difficulties they may have. You may want to tell them that their information will be kept just between the two of you but this way of working is risky for both you and your Buddy. You may hear something that makes you feel uneasy. Something that you don’t know how to handle. Something that you cannot solve on your own. It’s important to share issues with your PD team so you can support each other. You cannot be the sole

Four things to think about are:

  1. Concerns. If you’ve got any, chat with your the PD team, your city coordinator or escalate to Head of PD.

  2. Secrets. Don’t promise to keep any secrets. Make that clear from the beginning and remember to ask your mentee if they mind you sharing confidential information with anyone else.

  3. Information. Keep information about your mentee (like their phone number) somewhere secure.

  4. You. Confidentiality works both ways. Be aware of those personal areas of your life you’re happy to share with your mentee and those you are not.

Tools and Techniques

1. Goal setting and action planning – A great way to start is by setting goals and making an action plan. This will keep you on track and help you to:

  • Find out where your Buddy needs support

  • Agree goals that they can work towards

  • Gauge how you are doing

  • Keep an eye on your goals

  • Pat each other on the back for your successes

Don’t forget, goals are most useful when they are SMART:

Specific – for example, rather than ‘get a website’, say ‘choose a suitable domain name for my business’.

Measureable – Decide how you’ll know when you’ve achieved it.

Achievable – Can you do it?

Realistic – Do you think you have a real prospect of reaching your goal?

Timed – Is this a long-term or short-

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