Many children, young people and adults with learning disabilities are socially isolated, with few opportunities and low levels of confidence, wellbeing and social skills. We address this through volunteer befriending: creating real and equal friendships that also provide respite for carers
All the people we work with have a lifelong condition that affects their development and means they need help to understand information, learn skills and live independently. Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome or autism are often involved and up to 40% have suffer from epilepsy or sensory impairments. Most children are taught in additional needs support units, and in adult life, less than 10% will have a partner or a job.
Friendships are essential for human happiness and our volunteers are often the only people in member’s lives purely out of choice. This has an enormous impact on wellbeing and self-esteem, and carers can enjoy the time for themselves because they know the person they care for is having fun with friends in a safe environment.
We have 200 volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life, including around 70 recruited from schools and Borders College. The significant and visible impact they make on the 200 people they befriend each year makes it a very rewarding role.
We have 4 Branches (Berwickshire, Central Borders, Roxburgh and Tweeddale) covering the Scottish Borders and working with 320 members. Each Branch has a Co-ordinator and Assistant. Our Board of 6 Directors (and special advisor) includes people with learning disabilities, carers and volunteers.
During the COVID lockdown we switched from face to face 1:1 links and befriending goups to distance befriending using Zoom, facebook & Whatsapp combined with traditional mailings of newsletters and arts & crafts activities. We have also helped members without devices or connections get online. We are now restarting face to face activities but still delivering the distance service to ensure no-one is left out.
We usually fundraise locally for volunteer expenses and group costs on an ongoing basis, but this is not possible at the moment and so we would really appreciate any donation you can make. Thank you.