The Leisure Buddies Project is an innovative way to support people with disabilities who attend our services to access leisure & social activities in their communities.
Volunteers play an important role in supporting people with disabilities to be part of their community & to experience new social activities. Leisure is an important & valued part of everyone’s life including those with a disability however sometimes in order for them to participate in social activities people with an intellectual disability may have to rely on somebody for support.
The project coordinator recruits, screens, trains and supports volunteers to do this, while also providing support to their matched ‘buddy’& their family where appropriate. Volunteers must be over 18 years or over 16 years for Youth Buddies (see below). A match is based on the volunteer’s age, geographical location & shared common interest between the volunteer & a potential buddy.
The new friends meet up at least once a month, at an agreed time that suits them both. The Volunteer & Buddy cover their own expenses & pay for their own activities, food etc.
All Leisure Buddy matches are supported by the coordinator initially until both feel comfortable in each other's company then the coordinator takes a step back but is always on call to offer support.
The support the volunteers offer their buddy can take many forms:
- Information about what’s available & how to become involved.
- Transport to a location or activity.
- A familiar face with whom to try out new experiences.
- Someone with whom to share experiences & build a friendship.
This is where the volunteer comes in; by forming a relationship with someone with a disability a volunteer can assist their partner in trying out new things while enjoying each other’s company.
Meeting up with a buddy can be as simple as spending time with them & having a chat over a cup of coffee. Volunteers & their buddy decide on what social activity they wish to do depending on their shared personal interests.
Youth Buddies cater for the teenagers & young adults in the service who are supported by students from local secondary schools. Volunteers must be 16 or over to join youth buddies.
Social outings take place once a month, in a group setting & are fully supervised by youth leaders. The coordinator organises the activities & informs the group members of when they are taking place.