What do we want to do?
Friends for Leisure will deliver a regular inclusive and accessible weekly drama group, “Friends of Falli”, for disabled children and young people in Macclesfield. This will be in partnership with Fallibroome Academy, the Jude Theatre Company and a number of young volunteers. It will reduce local young people’s feelings of isolation and build their confidence and communication skills.
Friends for Leisure provide inclusive leisure activities for disabled children and young people, aged 5-21 years, across Cheshire East. We recruit and support volunteers (80% of whom are under 21) who befriend these children at the group activities we arrange, or one-to-one. The Friends of Falli group is a special group activity that focuses on working with young people who are marginalised through physical disability, learning, sensory, mental ill-health or a combination of disabilities. The impact it will have on the local community will be to increase participation in the community by, and reduce social isolation for, disabled children and young people.
Disabled young people are often lonely and isolated, either because they attend school miles from home, or because they are bullied or ostracised for being seen as ‘different’. So many of our new children come to us telling us they have no friends at all. In addition to the unhappiness this causes, it also means that young people often don’t develop social skills or levels of independence, essential parts of growing up. They don’t have the opportunity to learn how to communicate, particularly for young people who have an autism spectrum condition. So many of us take for granted participation in leisure activities with friends.
At Friends of Falli, a variety of role-playing activities will be offered, ending with various performances. Drama fosters self-expression, confidence and communication, teaching the ‘how to’ of these skills, which all feed into other parts of young people’s lives. Through role-playing, young people learn valuable social lessons, how to express feelings through body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. They also learn how to recognise and react to signs from others. For students with autism spectrum conditions, these skills are vital in developing confident self-expression and active participation in social interactions. Most importantly they are able to mix with other peers and build their circles of friendship.
With regards to volunteering, this group provides excellent volunteering opportunities for Macclesfield’s young people in the community. Through our comprehensive volunteer programme individuals can learn about disability, develop various skills and become more welcoming of diversity in the community.
This funding will make a HUGE difference. It would fully fund a whole year’s worth of drama activities for disabled children and young people living in and around Macclesfield, removing the worry of seeking additional funds throughout that year. We will be able to deliver 39 sessions in total for 16 disabled regular participants at any one time (maximum number for safeguarding reasons and because some disabled children can struggle in larger groups). They can be aged 10 to 21. 4 young local volunteers will also support the group.
As our current children tell us:
“I don’t want to be on my own all the time and I like making friends happy”
“Friends for Leisure is great fun for me to make new friends and get involved in different activities to try”