What is the Friendship Scheme?
The Friendship Scheme arranges for volunteers called Befrienders to be a friend to an adult with learning difficulties.
The scheme lets people make friendships on a one to one basis, which helps people to get out and about, to have a fuller social life and to use local leisure and social facilities.
We make sure we match people who have similar personalities, hobbies and interests so that it’s easier to make friends, lead a more active social life and build up a social network.
As well as one-to-one activities, there are joint activities at our Friendship Clubs, Art Clubs and Fit for Fun Clubs that let peo-ple meet others in a fun and enjoyable way.
Why we have a Friendship Scheme
We believe that all people have a right to quality of life and equality of opportunity and that all people should be valued as equal. All adults with learning difficulties have the same rights as anyone else to make decisions about the life they want and receive the right kind of support to achieve what they want. The Scheme aims to tackle the social isolation and loneliness experienced by many adults with a learning disability. With a volunteer Befriender, people with learning disabilities can get out and about in their local community, socialise and make friends and enjoy a variety of experiences and activities.
We help people to build strong relationships and help people get what they want, making sure they get the right support. We help people to use leisure and cultural amenities so they can take part in the community and have a lot more choice and inde-pendence.
We treat each person as an individual and with respect and dignity.
Where is there a Friendship Scheme near me?
The Friendship Scheme operates in the following areas:
East Herts & Waltham Abbey and Welwyn & Hatfield and Hertsmere: providing one to one friendships, helping people to take part in their community through leisure and cultural activities
St Albans & Harpenden and Stevenage & North Herts: providing one to one friendships, helping people to take part in their community through leisure and cultural activities. We also run the following Clubs here:
The Friendship Club – helps people who are harder to find a volunteer for to take part in community leisure activities. Volun-teers are supported by the Coordinator. Meets once a month
Art Group – enables adults with learning disabilities to meet others and enjoy arts and crafts in a relaxed yet exciting and hands on creative group. Activities include working with colour, art from around the world (for example, aboriginal paintings), pup-pet-making, card making and mosaic work. Meets on Fridays 10.00am – 12.30pm at the Lourdes Hall, Southdown Road, Harpenden
Fit for Fun! – A gentle and fun exercise and movement session with a healthy eating session. Meet every two weeks 6.00pm – 8.00pm at Trinity Church, Beaconsfield Road, St. Albans
NEED A LITTLE BIT ON HOW TO JOIN
What do friends and volunteer Befrienders gain from the Scheme?
- Confidence and increased self esteem
- Further friendships within clubs, pubs and societies
- A chance to do something different, fun and shared experiences
- Support from other volunteers and friends at regular FS group social activities
On-going support from the Co-ordinator
The Importance of Friendship
Jane has a learning disability. This has made it much more difficult for her to join in with activities and events which people usually take for granted such as shopping, participating in sports, joining clubs and societies, going to the cinema, going out for meals and using public transport. Eight months ago Jane was matched with a volunteer through the Guideposts Trust Friend-ship Scheme.
Jane and Alison have been friends for eight months now. The friendship scheme coordinator based the match on common interests, hobbies and personalities to try and ensure a successful friendship
Jane says, “I’ve been seeing Alison for a long time now. We see each other every two weeks. We both like plants and flowers. We’ve been to parks and garden centres and a show. I always seem to make new friends when I go out with Alison because being with her helps me talk to people. I love having a friend like Alison.”
Alison says, “I really enjoy being a friend to Jane. She has the same interests as me. We enjoy going on walks together, shop-ping and eating out. We also both enjoy gardens and plants and we have been to garden centres, parks and gardening events together. I get real pleasure from taking her places she wouldn’t otherwise be able to visit. I feel that I get so much more out than I put in. Time spent together is very happy for both of us.”