Who we are
My Life My Choice raises the self-esteem and quality of life for people with learning disabilities by providing volunteering, training, employment and social opportunities for its members. We are an independent, multi-award winning, user-led charity (all 15 trustees have a learning disability) with 594 members from across Oxfordshire. We are very proud to have received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2017.
Why we exist
Our vision is a world where people with learning disabilities are treated without prejudice, and are able to have choice and control over their own lives.
About our project
Our project is called Gig Buddies and the idea is simple; the beneficiary is matched with a volunteer who loves the same kind of ‘gigs’ (e.g. football matches, concerts, the cinema, museums, etc.) so they can go to these ‘gigs’ together.
Alongside these pairings, Gig Buddies runs monthly group social events around Oxfordshire, as well as a walking club, and a film club to bring together our community to help people get out and further increase their social circles.
Our plans for extension and expansion
After a successful first year pilot of the project where we matched 14 pairs and saw 154 people with learning disabilities attend our monthly social events we now want to expand the Gig Buddies service to support more people with learning disabilities and to include new beneficiary groups.
Reports, including Oxfordshire Community Foundation’s 2016 “Oxfordshire Uncovered” identified loneliness and isolation as significant challenges for some of Oxfordshire’s most socially disadvantaged groups. As a result of this we have teamed up with two long established and well respected Oxfordshire organisations: namely Oxfordshire Age UK and the mental health charity Restore.
Your support will help us to extend our Gig Buddies service to the two other beneficiary groups supported by these charities; namely, older people, and those with mental health problems. Not only will there be more lonely/isolated beneficiaries being supporting by volunteers, but also the volunteers themselves may come from the charity beneficiary groups. In this way we can ‘double up’ the impact of the pairings so that the volunteers can gain experience, confidence and skills which, in some cases, may help them enter a paid/volunteer role outside the project.
The money raised will help us to increase links across the 3 charities in order to expand our offer to the people of Oxfordshire. By April 2022 your support will help us to have 135 active pairings along with monthly social events attracting at least 30 people to each event.