What is the Buddy Scheme?

The Buddy scheme is a befriending scheme in Kingston that matches volunteers with a "buddy" with a learning disability or on the Autistic Spectrum.  The "buddy pair" then meets on a regular basis to take part in leisure activities together.

 

What will volunteering involve?

As a volunteer with the Buddy Scheme you will be matched with a service-user on a one-to-one basis, meeting that person regularly and trying different leisure activities together.

We try to match volunteers to service-users who are a similar age to them, ideally with similar interests. Our buddy pairs enjoy a wide variety of activities including cycling, walks, going to a football match, boat trips on the river, bowling, shopping, meals out, gym classes etc.

The qualities a befriender needs are enthusiasm, friendliness, commitment and, above all, patience.

 

Why are befrienders needed?

People with learning disabilities are amongst the most socially excluded and vulnerable people in society. Very few have jobs, live in their own homes or have real choice over who cares for them. Many have few friends outside their families and those paid to care for them.

Friendship and enjoying simple social activities is something most of us take for granted. By befriending an individual with a learning disability, you will help them access leisure facilities they might not otherwise be able to.

 

Time Commitment

We ask a commitment of a few hours at least once a month, for a year. Visiting someone for a year allows time to build up trust and a good befriending relationship.

The Buddy Scheme is a flexible form of volunteering and you will be able to arrange each visit for a time that suits both you and your buddy (though once you make an arrangement to visit a service-user at a particular time it is important that you make every effort to keep to that arrangement).

 

Disclosure and Barring Service Check (DBS)

You will be required to have a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. We will organise this and there will be no cost to you. Having a criminal record does not necessarily prevent you from volunteering with the scheme. You can discuss any issues regarding the DBS check with the project co-ordinator in complete confidence before applying to volunteer.

 

Training and Support

Before you begin volunteering, you will attend some informal training, which will provide you with some useful information to help you in your befriending role. The training is usually over one evening, and covers topics such as: Disability Awareness;Maintaining Boundaries; Overcoming Communication Difficulties; Safeguarding and Introduction to Autism.

On-going support is provided. The project co-ordinator will be available to help with any difficulties you might have and to monitor the progress of your befriending relationship.

 

Expenses

All volunteer expenses are paid for. Volunteers should only donate their time and enthusiasm. The service-users pay their own costs for activities and we will pay the volunteer costs. So if you and your ‘buddy’ go to the cinema, for example, they would pay for their ticket, you would pay for yours, and we will refund you the cost of your ticket.

 

What happens next?

After completing a registration form, you will be invited for an informal interview, where you can find out more about the Buddy Scheme and have any questions answered, and we can find out a little about you and your interests.

 

If you have any questions before you apply to volunteer please call

Kathryn Smith, the project co-ordinator on:

020 8255 8068 / 8685 or email:buddyscheme@gokingstonvolunteering.org.uk